Jun 22, 2016

Posted by in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Jesus and the wild man of Gerasenes

Jesus and the wild man of Gerasenes

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.

 

I’m the boy from Gerasenes – the one who lives on the ‘otherside’. For a long time I’ve been here, amongst these tombs, living in the shadows of the underworld, hiding from those who chased me from the home of my birth. Standing here, some saying I’m mad – let me tell you how I got here…

For a long time I was hounded, first by the voices, then by the visions in my head – the visions of darkness that penetrated my living – oh the horror, the crying – the violence I kept seeing – and the laughing, the constant laughing – how they laughed at me – the faces and voices – especially at night – during the long, lonely nights as I lay and heard my mother crying quietly after my father had beaten her again.

He beat her so often I can’t remember a night it didn’t happen. I wanted to do something, at least to run away, to disappear from the house and never return. How I hated those cruel blows and taunts that came so easily from my father’s hands and mouth. And how I started to hate – first to hate him, then my mother, for not leaving him, then my uncles and aunts for not saying anything – for the lies and cover ups…

And then, later the voices in my head started, not just one but several – and all of them – cruel and taunting – laughing and haunting – hating and calling me to hate – until that cold rainy night – when – before me, my father’s face, loud cursing, his hand lifted to beat her again, I did what the voices called me to do – I struck him until I knew he wouldn’t ever lift a hand again.

But you know, with him a part of me died too – and I felt the space in my heart being flooded by the evil voices and faces I had been hearing and seeing for so long. And so I fled, and as I fled I felt the evil ones accompany me into the hills to hide amongst these tombs in which we’ve lived ever since – filled with anger and hatred ever since.

Within me live these forces of evil – filling me with visions of fury and sadness – so deep and wide that no person could bear them – such are the demons within – that I am no longer me but we – and Legion is my name. I’m the a demon-filled boy from the Gerasenes, lost and lonely haunted by history, shaping the future, tearing off all that wants to bind me – naked and lost, lost, lost in the twilight zone of all that is ugly and cursed in the world.

 

And from my hopeless and godless hill, we can see it all – all the evil that ever was perpetrated and will be perpetrated within humankind – we see it all – the evil that lurks in the heart of every person. We see, we see, we see and shout and torment and call and cry out and add our venom to the evil ways of humankind. And from here we not only see the evil in the world around us – but from here we can see all the evil perpetrated down the generations and from here we can see the evil that’s coming – coming in the future….

 

Yes, and we can see what’s in the hearts of all about us; we can see you all, walking below us, in the cities and towns and villages surrounding us. And while we live here, in this broken boy – we are everywhere – throughout history, throughout time, looking for ways to share our toxic and life-stealing poison…

 

And so we address you all – those in the past and those in future…

  • And from here, we hear the gossiping tongues of all who share half-truths and spread rumours in the synagogues, temples and churches… and we rejoice in the division it sows in the community! We see your white lies, your little deceits and know that these are the building blocks of the larger evil we seek to build amongst you….
  • And we can see the deceitful men going about their lives living in broken relationships, cheating their partners who feign their love for each other, neglecting their children, breaking the spirits of their sons… yes, we see them all – those past and now dead – and those who will do this in the future…
  • We know and rejoice at the broken families that happen in every generation – how even you who hear our voices now know families who carry grudges and choose not to forgive each other for years and years – and how you come to funerals wishing you had had time to make amends; oh, how we rejoice at your hardness of heart, your cold-heartedness, your timid and fearful love…
  • And we can see the teenagers of every generation break their promises to each other taking comfort in short lived encounters of no meaning – their puny relationships, their half-filled lives filling with loss and sadness!
  • And we can see in every generation, your deceiving business men and women, the double-dealing merchants amongst you who fix their scales so that the poor pay more tax, pay more for their bread, pay more for their rent, pay more for livestock while the rich amongst you get fat on the sweat of the weak! And how we delight in the poverty, in the inequality that breeds the revolutions that erupt in history! We know and support your unsustainable and all-consuming lifestyles…. Your desires for more and more and more, even when you know your planet can’t sustain it!
  • And how we encourage the ideological divisions that rock and separate your communities. How over the years, we have pitched believer against believer, how we have conspired to cause division and hatred between people of different geographies, different faiths, different races, cultures and languages… and how we love the divisions and pain of separation.
  • And how, from generation to generation we toil to ensure that the women remain oppressed – that their freedoms remain curtailed by a rampant patriarchy…
  • And how we thrived during the long years of slavery! Ah, the days of slavery, when a landowner could buy a human soul on the open market and put them to work till they died…
  • How we have rejoiced to see your years and years of wars; wars between brothers, between friends and between communities – north versus south, east versus west. And to hear the groans of death on the battlefields as young men cried for their mothers drowning in their own blood, while shooting their cousins, their neighbours…
  • And how we will celebrate the horror of the European concentration camps – how we will watch with glee as mothers holding tight their feeding babies will be ushered into the concrete chambers of death…
  • And how we will sing when your brothers in the East dig graves large enough for several hundreds of those they will murder and assassinate….
  • And how in Africa, without so much as backwards glance whole villages will be burned to the ground by child soldiers sent by dictators who will spare no one – not even the old gogos begging to protect their granddaughters…
  • And wait – wait for the evil days of Apartheid coming to South Africa – when the school children filled with zeal and boisterous shouts of “Amandla” and “Freedom” will fill the streets and proclaim that education without justice isn’t for them – and how we’ll wait and watch, willing the protests to become riots – longing for the police to open fire and how we will dance when little Hector Pieterson falls – and all fury breaks loose…
  • And how, as Syrian families will try to flee the bitter wars of a misunderstood Islam only to be rejected by their European neighbours who close their borders and eyes – and fold their hands, how we will tug at their fleeing flimsy boats of death and watch the moaning, groaning water rise to take them – especially the children… And how we will gasp and giggle with glee as the waters claim families whose names will be lost forever in the dark Mediterranean ocean…
  • You see, we have occupied men and women, just like you, throughout time – always looking for opportunity to destroy, to diminish, to damage the fabric of life, to kill hope and lock communities in fear – as we do on the Flats of your Cape Peninsula where gangs fight wars to control the avenues of tick and mandrax that maim your youth and rob them of their potential.
  • And how quietly and with stealth, we will leave this lonely hill of Gerasenes and travel to the dark streets of Orlando, Florida and with automatic rifle loaded we’ll burst into that nightclub and spray death amongst gays and lesbians whom we have hated and despised through the ages…
  • And how we will counsel the politicians to refuse to ban weapons of mass destruction; to drag their feet on passing legislation to make the world a safer place…

 

Yes, my friends, we are evil and we live here in the hills of the Gerasenes – occupying this lonely boy who once years ago murdered his father and fled, demon-filled into the dark tombs of the underworld…. And how from here we reach both backwards and forwards in time and space destroying life….

 

But wait – what’s that – what’s happening – something is changing – who IS that who’s walking over to us, who has come ashore and crossed over to the other side?

We can’t see – the light, it’s too bright, resilient, too embracing, to unconditional – it’s calling us, shining on us, opening up our world of shame and darkness.

Now it’s naming us, laying a hand on us, looking at us in the eye – something commanding  but loving about it – this light that’s getting closer – wait, it’s a person – he has features we can’t make out – except that his eyes are like fire, his breath like a dove, his voice a whisper, but so audible, we can hear it speaking our names – all of them – he’s calling us out by name: War, violence, oppression, murder, slander, cruelty, lust, selfishness, greed, hunger, poverty, lies, deceit, addiction, hatred – all of us who have lived within this broken boy for so long – he’s calling us out – saying “go” and saying “enough”.

And mustering up all our cunning, all our powers of deception, all our years of evil intent – we can’t resist him, we feel our power going – its running out of us like a stream, flowing from these hills down into the sea, sweeping up a flock of pigs in its wake… and into the abyss of history….. gone forever…

 

And so I find myself sitting clothed here – at the feet of someone who has, a moment ago, touched and held my heart! For just an instance, I felt as though someone entered into me and opened my eyes from within – and even now, I feel myself awakening – as from a long and tiring slumber and… opening my eyes for the first time again – I see him, the one who entered my heart and cleansed me from all that lived within and whose love has made me whole again – restored me, clothed me, unchained me…. And I start to laugh, and dance and sing again – this time with a peaceful joy that I’ve never known before – I see it all now, and know that I was dead and have been brought to life, I was in the grip of evil but have been set free, I have seen hell and now know hope – I was lost and now am loved…. I can love, I can love, alleluia and thank you God, Amen.

 

And so, my friends let me share a final word. This is the wild man from Gerasenes – the one made whole, no longer wild, but here sharing my story. Friends, the Gospel today is about an epic struggle between Jesus and the evil that lives in this world – that seeks to corrupt and destroy all that God has made. But the Gospel today is more than a story about a struggle for the heart of the world – it’s a story of the struggle for our hearts too – yours and mine. It’s a savage struggle – because the evil that roams this earth, visiting us in its different forms is real. But the Good News is that the battle is over – won!

While it will raise its head, again and again, in generation after generation – it is defeated, unable to compete with the love God has poured into the world through God’s son, Jesus. Yes, God’s love has come in Christ and is filling he world – making all things new!

But God calls us to join God in this ongoing walk of liberation and freedom and love…

Will you join God in this work?

Amen

 

chris ahrends

St Margarets, Parow, 19.06.16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>