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A Meditation

There is a poignant, multi-leavel story in this gospel. Jesus performs a healing of a man beset by demons in the land of the Gerasenes on the opposite side of the sea of Galilee. As Jesus alites from the fishing boat, a man in deepest pain throws himself on the ground before Jesus, asking Jesus not to hurt him. This man has been hurt too often, and mercilessly over the course of his life.

The man is possessed of demons, numbering as a legion. Now a legion comprised between 3,000 and 6,000 men. The use of this word makes us understand clearly that the dark powers that imprisoned this man was as powerful and desparate as can be contemplated, and even more so. Jesus drives the demons out into a herd of swine, who thereupon hurl themselves into the sea in their despair.

Someone went to rouse the people of the village. They came out to the lake shore. The villagers were wary and not pleased by Jesus’ appearance. When Jesus healed the man, he threw everything out of whack. The man’s long hell had been abetted by the people of the village. To use a very forbidden term, the man was their village idiot. This is an ugly expression and one not generally to be used. However, it denotes the abject ugliness of the hellhole the man had lived in—out among the tombs, howling through the night and day. No one from the village helped him. They kept him in a prison manufactured of their own loathing and fear because they needed someone to look down on. The man’s demonic hell was the product of human neglect and depravity. Jesus’ miracle of healing was to give freedom.

Jesus’ unbalanced everything. The villagers scattered, leaving Jesus and the man on the beach. Not surprisingly, he wanted to go home with Jesus because Jesus had cured him and represented friendship and safety. Jesus told him to go back home again, and important, to declare to all of his neighbors what God had done for him. The tables had been completely turned. Power shifted to the good.

Pastor Neil

 

Gathering

Celebrant ☩ Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People     And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever.

Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

THE COLLECT OF THE DAY

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving¬-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
The Old Testement
Isaiah 65:1-9

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and offering incense on bricks;
who sit inside tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
with broth of abominable things in their vessels;
who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all day long.
See, it is written before me:
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their laps
their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they offered incense on the mountains
and reviled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
full payment for their actions.
Thus says the Lord:
As the wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, “Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,”
so, I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;
my chosen shall inherit it,
and my servants shall settle there.

Reader The Word of the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.

 

Let us read the psalm in unison.
Psalm 22:18-27

Be not far away, O Lord; *
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
Save me from the sword, *
my life from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth, *
my wretched body from the horns of wild bulls.
I will declare your Name to my brethren; *
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
Praise the Lord, you that fear him; *
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them; *
but when they cry to him he hears them.
My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: *
“May your heart live forever!”
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For kingship belongs to the Lord; *
he rules over the nations.

THE GOSPEL
Celebrant The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Luke.
People Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Luke 8:26-39
Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So, he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So, he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So, he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, Lord Christ.

SERMON PASTOR NEIL

 

THE NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Celebrant
In calling forth creation from the void, God, you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.

Leader

Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world, and equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Intercede and bring peace to Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the streets of Baltimore. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Help those suffering mental illness, broken families, and homelessness. Protect Mother Earth from human neglect and destruction. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Create changed hearts within us. Help us to become our best selves, as your life on earth as one of us intended us to be. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Burn out all that is evil in us; consecrate us for holy service and empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for our mission. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Renew the faith of all those who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace to a fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders, and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Be with those who are dying and ill, and their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by the reality of their lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We especially pray for those we in our hearts and minds silently name now. (Pause) Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Celebrant
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all
things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord
of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth,
divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

A CONFESSION OF OUR SINS TO GOD

Celebrant Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence will be kept
Minister and People Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

 

THE PEACE
Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

 

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Lift up your hearts.
People We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Celebrant It is indeed right and salutary that we should in all times and in all places give thanks to you, holy Lord, Almighty Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. For by water and the Holy Spirit you have made us a new
people in Jesus Christ our Lord, to show forth your glory in
all the world. Therefore, we praise your name and join angels and archangels by saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. ☩ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

 

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the wholeworld.
On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given ☩ thanks to you and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my Body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given ☩ thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

Christ has died. Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. ☩ Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the

Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him.

Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.

Together: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

People Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

A CALL TO COMMUNION

Celebrant The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving. This is God’s table, and at God’s banquet, all God’s children are welcome—without exception!
Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.

 

THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

THE BLESSING

Celebrant Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.