172: Proper 7C (June 19, 2016)


172: Proper 7C (June 19, 2016)

image: "My Name is Legion" 
Join us at Wild Goose Festival July 7-10 in Hot Springs North Carolina!

  • Save 25% with the code “GooseCast2016

Voice in the Wilderness: Galatians 3:23-29 with Melissa Meyers & Nicole Cox #pastorbesties

Featured Musician - Red Molly, “Jezebel” from their album James

Episode 172 Proper 7, Year C (June 19, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 172 for Sunday, June 19, 2016, Proper 7, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Jim Wallis Audio disaster, but bear with it and check it out!
  • Join us at Wild Goose Festival July 7-10 in Hot Springs North Carolina!

    • Save 25% with the code “GooseCast2016

Voice in the Wilderness: Galatians 3:23-29 with Melissa Meyers & Nicole Cox #pastorbesties

Featured Musician - Red Molly, “Jezebel” from their album James

Donate: www.pulpitfiction.us/donate

Gospel Reading: Luke 8:26-39 Gerasene Demoniac
Initial Thoughts

  • How do modern listeners talk about demons?

    • Actual embodied manifestations of evil?
    • Mental health

    • Addiction
    • Like the ‘enemies’ in the Psalms?
    • Anxiety, depression, isolation, greed, self-doubt.

Bible Study

  • Lectionary Context

    • Skipped Parable of the Sower, Jesus saying, “My mother and brothers are those who hear my words and do it.”  and Jesus calming the storm  (which he did on this trip to other side of the Sea of Galilee).

      • Three stories of people not understanding.
      • Sower and the seed is about ¾ of seed that doesn’t take.
      • Jesus redefining family
      • Disciples fearful in the boat
    • This is a story of the demon knowing exactly who Jesus is.
    • Strange story of Jesus crossing sea, healing man, leaving him there, and going back. A lot of effort for one man, even if he is occupied by a Legion.
  • Greeted by “a certain man.” Man gets no name

    • “Possessed by demons”
    • For a long time: Naked, living among tombs
    • Had been chained and guarded
    • “As in many stories of persons who have a demon, the pronouns are hard to keep separate. In the phrase “He said” the ‘he’ is Legion. In the phrase “into him” the ‘him’ is the man, not Legion. It is not a linguistic problem, it is the problem of identity with anyone who has a demon. Who am I? Who am I apart from or in cohesion with this demon? Can ‘I’ be separated from ‘it’? I find stories of persons with demons to be powerfully insightful into the real dilemmas facing anyone with controlling habits, diseases, or conditions. We become identified with the disease and the behaviors, whether via pity or anger. What worse condition is there than to ask, “Who am I” and not to be able to answer?” (D Mark Davis, Left Behind and Loving It)
    • Institutionalized - apart from society
  • Demon recognizes Jesus

    • For it was already called out of the man
    • Demon tries to assert authority by naming Jesus.
    • Jesus responds by demanding demon’s name.
    • “Legion” is a clear allusion to Roman authority.

      • A Legion is an occupying force, about 6,000 soldiers.
      • “The demoniac is called by the Latin name "Legion," referring to a company of up to 6,000 Roman soldiers. This strongly suggests that Mark linked the exorcism of the evil powers occupying the demoniac with acts of Roman oppression. The demons' preference for pigs is because of the animal's negative association in Judaism. The association of a Roman legion with a herd of pigs was a priceless piece of irony (Jeffrey John, The Meaning in the Miracles, 86).

Luke, following Mark's lead, identifies Roman military might with the supernatural powers that are behind all systems of violent oppression.” (Alyce McKenzie, Patheos)

    • Legion begs mercy. Jesus casts him into pigs - not valued animals for the time - and they run off the cliff and die.
  • People’s response is not positive.

    • v. 35:

      • CEB: “Filled with awe”
      • NRSV: “And they were afraid.”
    • v. 37

      • CEB: People “overcome with fear”
      • NRSV: People “seized with great fear”
      • Left Behind and Loving it: “They were bound together by fear.” So now, the man who was bound by chains now has caused the people to be “bound by fear.”
  • Man’s response

    • He wants to be bound to Jesus.
    • Jesus tells man to tell people “what God had done for him.”
    • Man tells people “what Jesus had done for him.”
    • Obedience or disobedience?

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How are mentally ill treated today? More and more, prisons are our mental health facilities. This man was chained in the tombs because of his possession. How many of those in our prison system are suffering from mental illness?

  • The man has no identity apart from his affliction. How many of us are defined by our failures?  Two quotes from David Lose:

    • Don’t we also tend to define ourselves in terms of our deficiencies and setbacks, our disappointments and failures? Not always, of course, but enough to rob us of the abundant life God hopes that we experience and share. Why is it that every time we want to take a risk and in this way be vulnerable, we are reminded of every failure, every disappointment we’ve experienced before? Perhaps because we’ve allowed these things to possess us. We, too, are Legion.
    • There are so many voices trying to possess and discourage us that we might still call them Legion. Yet against all of them stands the still, small, but mighty voice of the one who still crosses oceans and boundaries to tell us of God’s love and call us back to our right minds and grace-filled identities. Thanks to be God

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 42 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

Second Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-15 Elijah Seeks God
Initial Thoughts

  • Jezebel- Eric vindicated!!

    • In Which Jezebel Gives Way to Deborah: “I look forward to the day when women with leadership and insight, gifts and talents, callings and prophetic leanings are called out and celebrated as a Deborah, instead of silenced as a Jezebel.”
  • Back to 2 weeks ago to what happened after the Elijah threw down on the prophets of Baal

Bible Study

  • Context:

    • Elijah is coming off of a series of great victories (raising the dead, calling down the fire, overthrowing the prophets of Baal, proclaiming drought, etc) but is now weary

      • Driven more by fear than by love and dedication to God
      • Begs for death
    • Moses connections

      • Mount Horeb = Mount Sinai
      • 40 days and nights in a cave - like Moses (Exodus 24:18)
      • God passes by - like Moses (Exodus 32:22)
      • Wants to die - like Moses (Numbers 11:14-15)
  • Qol demamah daqqah

    • Qol - sound or voice
    • Demamah - silence, whisper or stillness (see Psalm 107:29)
    • Daqqah - thin, small, sheer, or fine
  • The Sound of Silence

    • Not necessarily that God had nothing to do with the wind, earthquake and fire, but God chose to speak in the silence.
    • Not a definitive declaration or revelation that God prefers to work in the silence or that we need to quiet our hearts in order to hear God
    • Too many examples of God being revealed in fiery pillars, column of smoke, fire and brimstone, great floods, earthquake of crucifixion, violent winds and proclamations of Pentecost, etc.

      • Direct contrast to how God spoke to Moses (Exodus 19:16-19) AND contrast to Baal the Storm God (Yahweh is in the calm after the storm)
    • Interesting to read this passage alongside Psalm 42 - Elijah’s unspoken complaint is God’s silence in the face of great tragedy - to reveal Godself to Elijah in that moment is a reminder that even in the most defining silence - God is there!
  • God defies expectation

    • Not that God isn’t in other things, but God is in the places we least expect it- the silence of life

      • "A shipwrecked man prays to God to save him. A boat approaches, but the man tells it to go away because God will save him. The boat leaves. A second boat arrives, and the man sends it away, saying God will save him. The man dies of exposure. When he gets to heaven, he complains to God for not saving him when he prayed. God tells the man he sent two boats to save him but the man sent them away."
  • Elijah’s Complaints:

    • Alone: “I alone am left” v.10 and 14

      • God speaking in the silence is a reminder that Elijah is never alone
      • God’s plans never rest solely on your shoulders- you are not alone
    • I am inadequate or unable to provide a future for Israel or even myself

      • God assures Elijah that there is a future, not only for Elijah, but for Israel
      • There are 7000 people that Elijah doesn’t know about
      • There is a future ministry for Elijah (anointing a new king and calling a new prophet) that Elijah doesn’t know about
    • It is interesting that Elijah still feels alone after being fed by an angel - TWICE!

      • Sometimes, depression and despair can blind us to miracles in our midst.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • How much time do we spend listening for God? We may talk, sing, shout and yell at God, but do we take time to listen? While God is present in all things, perhaps we need to take more time to listen to God speaking in moments of silence

  • It is easy to fall into despair when we  think the Kingdom of God rests only on our shoulders - even more so when we feel alone. Who are the partners- the 7000 - that God is calling us to connect with? How will we as pastors and churches continually reach out to others to bring about the Kingdom of God?
  • We may feel frustrated and exhausted as pastors and churches- but God can work with frustration and exhaustion. God can lead us to Sabbath (still waters), God can provide for us (green pastures), speak to us (restoring our souls) but does do to send us back out into the world.

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

  • Join us at Wild Goose Festival July 7-10 in Hot Springs North Carolina!

    • Save 25% with the code “GooseCast2016
    • Jim Wallis, Emilie Townes, Shane Claiborne, Paula Stone Williams and more

Thank you listeners

Featured Musician - Red Molly, “Jezebel” from their album James

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist, Support Richard on Patreon). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”, "Real Ride" and “Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).