"They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he stepped out of the boat..................................................................................And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed" (Mark 5:1-20)
I hope you take a few minutes and read the story in Mark 5:1-20. I find myself wondering if this story isn't about our culture. What is our problem? Our problem is "legion, many." (Mark 5:9) Everywhere we look we see trouble - and it seems as if we have tried everything to fix the problems; more laws to straighten people out, more relaxed mores to live and let live, more technology to be connected to one another, healthier eating, energy drinks, pills, fitness, occupying cities, government bailouts, and even religion. But the more we try to fix it the darker it gets, the more lost we are, and there is no end in sight. Much like the legion of Roman soldiers who cruelly dominated the region - so many problems.
Like the man Jesus met in Gerasenes, we are always crying out and bruising ourselves - although many of us cover it up and hope no one notices, most of all ourselves. We stay busy but we are bound. BUT what does Jesus do? Jesus met the man, he didn't turn away, or try a bigger chain to tie the guy down. Jesus spoke with the man and listened to him. And when Jesus recognized the demons that plagued him, he delivered the man from their bondage. Jesus is all about freedom - which is drastically different from getting to do whatever it is you wish to do. Jesus came to free us from what imprisons us, from the darkness, fears, wounds, shame, guilt and notoriously bad habits that we get stuck in. Jesus came to set us free for a full life, to live for God not just for ourselves - which is a dead end life with no other destiny but a tomb.
So imagine you, and all of Central, as this one man among the tombs, finally meeting somebody who could really help, this Jesus - and picture him giving permission to the Legion to leave and enter the two thousand swine, and setting you free.....just taking time to read the story can bring healing.
There is so much more in the story that merits consideration; can you imagine how angry the pig-herder was? Jesus shows up and the economy gets worse - no wonder they begged Jesus to leave. And that's just the tip of the iceberg - you will have to read the story for yourself. But as you read it ask yourself; "What happens when we get to the other side?" In one sense of the word, Central is going to the other side as we are in the boat with Jesus. What can we expect?
Part of going to the other side is getting involved in the lives of people who are living in the midst of horrific storms. This Sunday I encourage you to consider giving a special offering to help 3 of our neighbors;
NEIGHBOR #1 - The people of Duluth. If you earmark your special financial offering DULUTH know that it will go the relief efforts that are taking place amongst our neighbors to the North. Also if you bring a wrapped case of 16 - 20oz bottles of water to church no later than Monday at 3:00PM they will be delivered to the Walser drop off sites. Or you can bring water directly to a Walser drop off site.
NEIGHBOR #2 - The Masai people in Central Tanzania. During June we have been seeking to raise about $10,000.00 to go towards a mobile X Ray machine for the work of Dr. Steve and Bethany Friberg. Our Tanzania teams have been hosted by the Fribergs and the work they are doing amongst the Masai is beyond comprehension.
NEIGHBOR #3 - The Orphans and Semi-Orphans in our sister congregations of Kibena and Matiganjola. During June we have an incredible opportunity. A member has offered to match all new sponsorships during June. So far we have 32 new orphans who will begin to be sponsored. If you can give 50 cents a day or $15.00 a month your gift will be matched and an orphan will be sponsored in your name. Click the link on the right to view the remaining orphans.
C U Sunday!
Central Lutheran Church