Monday, January 29, 2018

Ignoring the Demon in the Room

Mark 1:21-28
January 28, 2018

The man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue.
I wonder how long he’d been there hanging around Capernaum
what other outbursts he’d had.
How long the people in the synagogue had
avoided him, tried to get rid of him without dealing with him,
how long they had ignored him and his problem.

I mean, he was identified as
J. Kirk Richards
“the man with the unclean spirit”
he had reputation, he was known in the community.
But his problem was probably just too much
and no one knew what to do with it.
So they most likely just ignored it.

I’m probably filling in a little here,
which I feel is my prerogative since
I have to come up with stuff every week,
but I’m probably not too far from the truth
because this is what humans do.
We ignore things when we can’t deal with them
and when we can’t make them go away.

I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that
many people, upon hearing the smoke detector
go off in the middle of the night will just go back to sleep.
The house might be on fire, but it is just too much
to deal with and so the human
reaction is to just shut down and go back to sleep.

We have many unclean spirits in our country
Not necessarily possessed individuals, but spirits that have
taken a hold of our whole society and won’t let go.

Truly horrible things that we never thought
that we could ignore, but we adjust, we ignore,
we move on with our day and hope they go away.
The house is on fire, and we just keep going back to sleep.

There is poverty and homelessness all around us,
people work multiple jobs and still can’t sustain themselves.
There’s climate change which has started to have
some real repercussions in our country.
Racism is rising, Nazism and the KKK are
moving into the main stream again.

It seems that almost every woman has
experienced some kind of sexual harassment at one time or another,
and I can tell you from my experience and the
experience of the women I know, that it’s true.
So we’ve had to ignore that for a while.

We’ve ignored gun violence:
this week there was a school shooting in Kentucky,
and this was apparently the 11th school shooting in
the United States since the beginning of the year,
and we’re not even out of the first month.

We have basically ignored the despair, anxiety, and rage
in this country that is expressing itself
in addiction, violence, depression and other ways.
It makes one man with one unclean spirit seem minor.

And I mean we’re all part of it, even if our lives seem
under control right now and we feel secure
because the problems are not manifesting themselves
in us at the moment, we are still part of it.
I am part of it you are part of it.
But, I get it, it seems like the only thing to do
is to live our lives and let it happen.
I mean these problems are too huge to take care of,
about them, they seem overwhelming,
and we have to get on with our lives, right,
so the best thing to do is walk on by, go back to sleep
and let the house burn down.
Like those people in the synagogue did with
this man with an unclean spirit.

That is until Jesus came.
And he sends the unclean spirits away.

This is Jesus first thing that he does in the gospel
of Mark after he calls the disciples.
You could say that in the first public act
in each gospel, the writer is making a point
about what Jesus is about.

In Matthew, the first thing Jesus does is
give the sermon on the mount.
Jesus is a great teacher.

In Luke, Jesus gives a sermon
in his hometown about the poor and oppressed,
and they run him out on the rails.
In Luke Jesus is a prophet, a controversial leader, an upstart.

In John, it’s the wedding at Cana,
where Jesus turns water into wine,
Jesus brings abundance to the world.

But in Mark’s gospel, Jesus starts his public ministry
with confronting a demon.
Jesus is breaking the chains that bind.
Jesus breaks the man out of his own prison.

The people in the synagogue were dazzled
by his teaching and his presentation,
but the real center piece of his day
at the synagogue is to break what is binding this man,
the problem that this community is ignoring.

And that’s what Jesus reveals to us:
Every boundary that has been put in place
everything that we think of as impenetrable, impossible
God can burst through and bring change.
Even to the hardest most difficult issues we’re facing today.

At times it may seem at times like God has abandoned us
like God has left this country to its own devices,
to collapse in on itself.
But our savior is here and God is with us.

It may take a long time, and we may never see the end,
but maybe our children and our grandchildren
may be able to see us free of the chains that bind us now,
what keeps us from being the people that God wants us to be,
and the community that’s more like the kingdom of God.

And when the time comes, we know that God will
even break through the bond that death
has over us, and we will be free forever.

When we really look at the demons around us,
it’s easy to be filled with doubt,
but have courage to look at the world as it is
and believe in God all the more,
and hope and work for the world as it could be.

“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God

has come near, repent and believe in the good news.”

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