Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pentecost 2C

Luke 8:26-39

26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As 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.

28When 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"— 29for 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.) 30Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32Now 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. 33Then 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.

34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then 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. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.

37Then 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. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39"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.

Welcome to an almost 6-month long stretch of the green, growing, thriving, changing and versatile season of Ordinary Time! As we count Sundays after the Day of Pentecost, we focus on our every moment, every day spectacularly alive in the power and reign of the Spirit of Life. This is Luke's year in the Revised Common Lectionary that provides our scriptures for each week. Every Sunday through Reign of Christ / Christ the King our gospel account will be from Luke.

Luke's perspective includes:

• world history and Jewish history
• Jesus' genealogy that ends with "Adam, son of God."
• presence and activity of the Holy Spirit – the HS has been prominent throughout the Bible's witness, but Luke-Acts brings a fulfillment of God's reign in the Spirit
• prayer
• women
• marginalized people of every type from every perspective—the underclass.
• table fellowship
• neighborology – the word about the neighbor that emphasize people nearby, the other, everyone living together faithfully in covenantal community.

Today's narrative that takes place in a heavily gentile area shows us one of many fulfillments of Jesus' announcement of his mission in Luke's version of Jesus' IPO, his first act of public ministry we read about on Epiphany 3C:

Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free."

Luke is one of the three synoptic gospels that view Jesus' life and ministry in a similar manner (syn=together / optic=related to eye or vision; all three synoptics contain a version of this story.

• Mark 5:1-20

• Matthew 8:28-34 with two demons

This narrative points beyond itself to the reversal of the cross as it shows an example of God's subversive, upside-down reign that inverts almost everything related to conventional human expectations.

We can interpret the guy filled with demons as a scapegoat, the designated outcast who carries around all of everyone else's in the community's bad stuff that includes sins, pathology, every bit of their undesirable less than good of every kind. The contagious crowd, herd, mob, or tribe mentality is prominent here, as well. Luke 8:35c – the crowd was afraid! Here was the end of their scapegoat; with the finality of the pigs filled with all those (2,000?) demons gone over the cliff and drowned they no longer had someone to dump their sin, evil, and undesirables on. Someone called this "an event without a future." Therefore? Luke 8:37 – they asked Jesus to leave.

Luke 4:29b Shortly after Jesus' announcement of his mission of freeing, liberating, from everything that binds or enslaves, his proclamation of the here and now of the reign of God, the crowds wanted to push Jesus over a cliff. That was a conventional form of execution in that culture.

We had a long discussion of ways people can be bound or held in many types of slaveries and addictions beyond their control, including the fact human chattel slavery still exists worldwide. Juneteenth every year on June 19th commemorates the day the reality of emancipation of slavery in the USA reached the state of Texas.

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