Sermon podcast: Trinity 117 Jun 2019 By Sermon Podcasts
Guy Hewlett, Rector of the Gornal and Sedgley Team, 23 June 2019.
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We live in a time of massive change – political, social and religious change are a central theme in our country and our lives, and our church is by no means immune from change; far from it.
Change can be unsettling and disturbing as well as life giving and creative.
There is a lot happening in our Gospel reading from Luke 8, and quite a few questions which we could ask:
- How did the man with the demons happen to meet Jesus as he landed?
- What drew him to Jesus?
- Why do we not hear the prayer that Jesus first prayed when he commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man, which then prompted the ‘man’s’ request not to torment him?
- Why a heard of pigs for the demons?
- Why did the poor pigs drown?
However I want to concentrate on the people who came out of the city when the swineherds told them what had happened – and ask:
- Why were they afraid when they saw that the man who had been demon possessed as now in his right mind, clothed and sitting at the feet of Jesus?
- What was is it that made the people from the surrounding country of the Gerasenes become seized with fear to the extent that they asked Jesus to leave them?
Change is a very difficult thing for many of us. It is very easy for us to get stuck in our ways; even when change is likely to bring about good things, we can find ourselves rejecting it. This is often because of fear of the consequences of that change and our need to deal with those consequences.
Many years ago, a friend of mine who knew well that I was a Christian, said to me:
‘I would like to follow your God, but I am afraid of what he might ask of me’.
He was not specific about what his concern might be, but he distanced himself from God by referring to ‘your God …’; not his of course.He was obviously fearful that God would ask something of him; I would go as far as to say he expected God to ask something of him if he were to follow God!
Many people understandably seek stability in their lives. I think many people are concerned about the changes that Jesus brings to our lives when we choose to sit at his feet. When the people came out of the city and saw the difference in the man who had had the demons, they were fearful of what change Jesus would bring to them.
It is as if they were happier with the status quo of the man possessed with demons and his awful life and all the dangers he brought to the community, rather than the beautiful and life-giving changes Jesus had brought to the man. The local people did not want their routine of life disturbed.Life had gone on just as it always had until Jesus stepped out of the boat!
The man who was healed of the demons wanted to stay with Jesus, the local people wanted Jesus gone.
On being asked to leave Jesus did exactly that, apparently without a quibble! But only after he had told the man who was now healed and clothed and in his right mind to ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’
I think this is what Jesus asks of us; to tell others of what he has done for us – in our homes, streets, work places, schools, churches and places of recreation.
Jesus had done so much for this man, ‘So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.’
We are called to declare what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. It is in Jesus and the changes he brings about in us that we find that it is him who is our rock and refuge.
In Psalm 18.2 we read: ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’. In psalm 42 set for today the psalmist again refers to God as his rock.
Any change which is of God will bring a greater stability and peace in our souls.
In Psalm 42 we read
1 As a deer longs for flowing streams,so my soul longs for you, O God.2 My soul thirsts for God,for the living God.
I pray that all our souls may long for God and find that through him any fear of the change he might bring about in us and our communities, will be gone.
I pray that we will want to share all that he has done for us!
- Have you ever stopped to think about what Jesus has done for you?
- Why not do that again now, or even for the first time?
- How easy would you find it to share what Jesus has done for you?