All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Tell me your Name: Demons & Pigs

Luke 8:26-39
June 23, 2013
Bonnie A. Perry


Come Holy Spirit….

Please be seated.

Good Morning!

The crowds are big and growing each day: a servant healed, a son raised, stories told, religious authorities prodded. He is the sensation. In a place and time without cable or internet, he is the attraction. He is their own personal reality TV show. So people come to see, to hear, to gather and afterwards to compare notes and dissect the stories.

Jesus’ group, because that sort of attention can be wearying, his group has hopped in the boats and crossed the several miles of the Sea of Galilee mostly to get a break. Once on the other side they are no longer in a place where Jews are the majority. The unspoken hope is they will find a day or so to be left alone. They have made their way to the Gerasenes’ land. There is some confusion does this story take place near Gerasa with is some 30 miles inland from the Sea of Galilee or is it Gadara—a smaller town much closer to the sea. Either way each is a gentile dominated area. They Jews are not there so who is going to care about their arrival or presence.

However, Jesus no sooner sets foot on the Gerasene soil, than a man comes to him from the tombs. A tormented soul, possessed in some way, who says to Jesus, “What do you want? Do not harass me! Why do you torment me?” Whoa—so much for a little beach get away.

The man is naked. He exists in the tombs amidst the decaying, rotting bodies of the town’s buried citizens. He is a man, we find out, who is possessed. Possessed by demons, mental illness what name we call it matters little. He is a man existing on the double yellow lines of life—in between, a time limited balancing act. Is he human or is he a demon? Is he alive or is he dead? He is betwixt, between both lanes.

Because of the demons that reside in his mind when he is in town the citizens chain him up, shackle him down. This restraint among the living he cannot bear. So with the strength only seen in the desperate he breaks those bonds, leaves the living and goes to dead. There he is naked, beyond vulnerable making his way between the putrid decaying corpses and the scavenging insects, rodents and animals. Is this a life he is living?

Then Jesus appears. The man approaches, screaming at Jesus. “Leave me alone. Do not torment me.” He has heard Jesus command the demons to leave or some such thing.

What does Jesus do? What does Jesus do? Please remember this please—What does Jesus do? He asks the man his name. ‘What is your name?’ We do not ask beasts their names or expect animals to offer us their names nor would we ever inquire of a demons what it would prefer to be called—we ask humans. We ask people, with whom we’d like to be in relationship. We say to them, “So tell me your name.”

“Legion,” the man says. “My name is ‘Legion’” for many demons had entered him. Legion it is. Then the man, or the demons, your pick the story is some 2000 years old you can read into it what you will. Some entity, residing in the man’s mind asks Jesus if rather than being cast into the abyss—“Can we please go into those pigs over yonder?” ‘Why not?’ says Jesus. Why not go into the pigs. Jesus is a Jew, it’s not like he cares about the pigs. Thus we may have the first biblical record of pigs functioning as “scapegoats”.

Here’s the thing—most who know this story remember the part about the pigs. They remember that the pigs run down the hill, or in an older translation they rush headlong off the cliff (fail to fly) and land in the Sea of Galilee. The pigs perish. That is what they recall. I am sure that this will make a most riveting scene when HBO gets around to filming this portion of the bible.

The folks who were witnesses as the swine flew….ran back to town and told everyone what happened. How the pigs are now dead. Yet having now made the obligatory quip about pigs flying it’s not where I want to focus.

What I find most compelling is that when the townspeople return to find the pigs in the sea they also find Legion, a man who was chained, sitting next to Jesus. Clothed, cleaned and in his right mind. I want to focus upon and ponder a man, exiled, now cared for, neglected and now tended to, sitting peacefully with the strangers who recognize his humanity.

The townspeople are terrified. Is it because of the change in Legion’s demeanor? Is it because the pigs became possessed and are now dead? Is it because the pigs were a major component of the town’s economy. The major consumer of said pigs being the garrisoned Roman army? And now with the supply gone the town has a whole new ‘legion’ for which they will have to contend. The townspeople are terrified, but that’s not my focus.


‘What’s your name?’ He asked him his name. Isn’t that always the way? Every prayer of substance, every prayer that matters doesn’t it always begin with, “Tell me your name?” Here we see, in the midst of all the other special effects, the power of our names, the beginning of all relationships.

On this bright summer morning may we remember and take heart, that no matter where we find ourselves, be we solid, upright citizens disturbed by a sudden downturn in the economy, or distressed, distraught and overwhelmed shells of ourselves existing in the tombs, Jesus comes to us with only one question: What is your name? The question that begins all relationships.

On the shores of galilee, on the streets of Chicago—“So, tell me your name?”

Amen.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry June 2013

 

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Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    

 

How much longer will the killing continue? 
 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
     
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
     
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
     
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
     
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    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
     
    All my best,
    Bonnie

     

    Memorial Service for John Vanzo

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    AUGUST 13 2013 11The memorial service for our friend and neighbor John Vanzo will be held at All Saints' this Saturday the 17th, at 11:00 am. There will be a visitation in the sanctuary prior to the service, beginning at 10:30am. All are welcome. 

    On Friday evening, the 16th, we will host a time of conversation and story telling for John's friends and family. All are invited from 7 to 9pm to share a drink, and hear and tell a favorite story of the very many sides of John.

    May John's soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

     

    Lenten Evening Prayer

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    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

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    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

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    We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
     
    We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 

    RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.

    If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.

    Donate to The 1883 Project

    Donate to The 1883 Project

    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    Fixing This Old Church

    Fixing This Old Church

    Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.

    Sunday Service Times

    8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
    9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
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    10:00 am Coffee Hour
    11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir

     

    Contact Us

    4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

    Phone (773) 561-0111

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    Information about pastoral care.

     

     


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    Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

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    The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

    November 30, 2014

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