Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Do I want you to come or go?

One of today's scriptures is a particularly memorable  and hard to understand  story of Jesus. It is a confrontation between Jesus and two fierce demoniacs.  He cast their demons into the nearby swine who then drowned:

Matthew 8: 
When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way
. Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
 Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 
And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. 
The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. 
Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.


As I reflect on this text I see a picture of power and authority in Jesus.  At Christmas we are welcoming a vulnerable little baby - but that baby grows up to be a man who has the power to expel the demons within these fierce men.  This is not gentle and peaceful Jesus that we can domesticate.
This is a picture of Jesus who brings change - healing, exorcism,

As I look at this narrative I do not fully understand the how of this action - but I can relate to the response of the townspeople.  The coming of Jesus and his powerful work with the demoniacs was scary and ultimately upsetting. Perhaps this kind of power brought insecurity and anxiety because it changed everything.  I wonder if the community had exiled these two men who lived in the tombs and were comfortable with that situation.   Now they were healed and whole and the poor businessmen, the swineherds, were out of work.  What is this man doing to our community?

I wonder how many of us think of Jesus as the gentle healer, the wise teacher, the suffering servant and not necessarily one with the power to not just heal - but shake things up! It is interesting to me that several times in the Bible, Jesus will say to a person - "Do you want to be healed?"  And that is a good question - because healing changes everything and often we like our life just as it is.  And secretly perhaps like the limitations of illness, addiction, being an invalid.

A prayer of Advent is simply this:  Come Lord Jesus Come.  The question to think about today is do we really want to pray it.  Or does a part of us want to say - leave my neighborhood so I don't have to change.

Anyway - here is my prayer for today

Come Lord Jesus Come - come into my heart and bring your unconditional love
Come Lord Jesus Come - come into my mind and bring clarity
Come Lord Jesus Come - come into my body and bring healing
Come , Lord Jesus Come - come into my life and bring changes in my values and my purpose.
Come, Lord Jesus Come - come with your power and your authority and shake me up.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come   Today.

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