There was a man that lived in a cave by a shore. Day and night this man would howl and cry, and his cries echoed through to a village close by. This really freaked people out. And not only would he howl but he would cut and injure himself with rocks; he was isolated and tortured.
One day a boat docked on the shore close by, and out walked Jesus. In an instant the tortured man ran to Jesus and bowed down before him and begged
“Please don’t hurt me!!”
Jesus said “What is your name?”
He said “My name is Legion, for we are many.” A Legion in the Roman army consisted of two thousand men; this man was posessed by 2,000 demons.
Jesus told the Legion to get out of the man and they did. Instantly that man was restored to sanity, and he returned to community. The Scripture actually says that he became ”clothed in his right mind…”
This is the story of the Demoniac of Gerasenes; it can be found in the Gospel of Mark, starting at Chapter 5 – verse 1. I was preparing to preach a sermon on this text on the second Sunday in June, 2010; but then Kesner died, so I didn’t. But I have always been fascinated by it; fascinated by the Legion in the man’s head. Many believe that the Legion were 2,000 demons….
I think they were 2,000 thoughts.
You know how your thoughts can keep you in isolation?
Thoughts about the past that stir up regret and shame; thoughts about the future that stir fear. Thoughts and judgments about others that cause division, and thoughts about the self that are destructive. These all come from the ego - that thing in us that thinks it is in control; that thing inside us that thinks it is more powerful than God.
I think ego – the need to be right, the need to control, the need to judge - is what keeps us isolated; close to community but not fully present in it. And our self centered thoughts, 2000 or more, are like those stones that cut us.
We torture ourselves, just like that man in the cave.
But what I really like about this particular story is that Jesus heals by asking the man his name. The man couldn’t answer right away because he didn’t know it. he said ‘we are Legion…’
And Jesus wasn’t asking for his government name. By name, I think Jesus was asking “who were you created to be?” “Who are you at your core?” “What is special about you and unique to you, beyond the masks that you wear…?”
What is your name, do you know it?
And I didn’t fully realize it, until I sat in that worship planning meeting at my church on June 8, 2010, that I had been actively searching for my name since I joined my sweet small church the year prior. I felt like that man in the cave; struggling with ego and trying to unlearn so much. And my church, 12 people small and bursting with Christian love – special, sweet, wonderful – was the community with whom I was healing.
Soul Friend suggested that I try this church; I needed a different experience. “I’ve bounced around from one large Black Baptist church to the next,” I told her. “I need my expectations of “church” to be violated; I need a different expereince.” I love the Black Church, but I’m used to it; I needed an experience that was new to me…
“I think I’d like to find a predominantly White church, with contemporary Christian music and the Acoustic guitar…” I told her.
Soul Friend suggested that I try Montgomery Ministries; she knew somebody who knew somebody who worked there once…
I took her advice and I went to the Montgomery Ministries website (www.montgomery-ministries.org). Immediately I loved that they referred to everyone as a minister. It didn’t matter if you preached or brought food, or if you sang or cleaned up; everyone was equal, every gift was celebrated. This had not been my experience with church in the past, I wanted this…
Over the next few months, Montgomery Ministries overwhelmed me with love; and right away I came to realize that it is a church that sings in tune with God’s song. And in that community I began to grow spiritually and began to live intimately and honestly with others; sharing my preaching gifts for the good of the whole.
And in that community of love and equality, I searched introspectively and opened myself up to the idea of deliverance….
I asked God to take my Legion….
But after Kesner died, I understood what that man from the cave must have felt when he ran out to Jesus and bowed down saying
“please dont hurt me!”
If I had known the price of my deliverance, would I still have asked for it?
If I just could have seen what was coming around the bend, perhaps I would have begged and pleaded also, crying:
‘PLEASE DON’T HURT ME!!! please dont allow me to experience that kind of pain, the pain of finding Kesner dead. The shock. The horror. God, PLEASE!!!’
But I couldn’t see what was coming, because at the end of the day I am powerless.
That is the paradox of prayer, I suppose. I asked to be made strong and I was made weak. I asked to be delivered and I was delivered, but not without a price…
But – alas – as much as I would like to go back in time and be with my beloved Kesner, I would not be who I am today if I had not expereinced the pain of losing him….
Thank You, Very Sweet
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