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Weekly Bible Study Notes and Worship Resources for Ordinary 12

Year C, Colour = Green


 Ordinary 12 Year C

Introduction

 

The Gospel story today tells of a man who was in a most sorry state. This was a man living filthy and naked, he was not able to control his speech, he is kept under guard and chained. In Mark’s Gospel we are told that he would self-harm himself by cutting himself with stones. The people around the man did not know what to do with him, they did not understand what was going inside him and it made them afraid. The people in the community assumed that the man was possessed by evil spirits. It is understandable that this would be their assumption and let’s be honest even today we don’t deal well with people who have mental health issues.

In the life and ministry of Jesus we see him healing physically sick people, we also see him healing the minds of those who were deeply troubled. There are many conditions which affect us which come from a wounded or troubled mind and mental health problems can affect everybody. Sometimes we can all behave self-destructively and there are few people who do not have metaphorical demons which haunt them, even if they do not use the terminology of spiritual possession. In many people’s lives there have been traumas which have left their mark, perhaps bereavement, unemployment, bullying, physical or emotional abuse. We cannot see a broken mind, but we can see the affects of one and it is normal for people to suffer breakdowns where they can no longer cope. It is to such people that we see Jesus respond with compassion as he makes sure that nobody blames the afflcited man for his own problems.

 

Opening Verse of Scripture    Psalm 43:3

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.

 

Collect Prayer for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.   Common Worship

God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen   Common Worship Shorter Collect

Creator God, in the beginning your word subdued the chaos and in the fullness of time you sent Jesus, your Son, to rebuke the forces of evil and to make all things new. By that same power transform our fear into faith that we may have courage to follow in the way of your kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

God of all power and truth and grace, you call your Church to love and praise. Inspire us with zeal for your gospel, and grant us boldness to proclaim your word, that we and all the world may praise your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   Methodist Worship

First Bible Reading  1 Kings 19 v 1 - 15

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. I have had enough, LORD, he said. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors. Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, Get up and eat. He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: What are you doing here, Elijah? He replied, I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. The LORD said, Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? He replied, I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. The LORD said to him, Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.

Second Reading  Galatians Chapter 3:22-29

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Gospel Reading   Luke 8:26 -39

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.
When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him.
And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Post Communion Prayer

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining and whose power we cannot comprehend: show us your glory as far as we can grasp it, and shield us from knowing more than we can bear until we may look upon you without fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen


Commentary

The Gospel story today tells of a man who was in a most sorry state. This was a man living filthy and naked, he was not able to control his speech, he is kept under guard and chained. In Mark’s Gospel we are told that he would self-harm himself by cutting himself with stones. The people around the man did not know what to do with him, they did not understand what was going inside him and it made them afraid.

The people in the community assumed that the man was possessed by evil spirits. It is understandable that this would be their assumption and let’s be honest even today we don’t deal well with people who have mental health issues. At that time there was a belief that evil spirits and demons were all around and it was they who were responsible for a great deal of what took place in the world. Physical sickness or diseases like leprosy were not seen as medical problems, they were spiritual problems and that is why those who were affected by the were precluded from taking part in the worship community. Today we have a very different world view which is influenced by science which has helped us to understand the physical causes of ailments. No longer do we believe that disease is caused by demonic activity, it is treated with medicine not exorcism and we believe that this is an important way in which God brings us healing.

In the life and ministry of Jesus we see him healing physically sick people, we also see him healing the minds of those who were deeply troubled. What this man had is called demon possession in the story today. I have never met anybody who is possessed by demons, but I have met people who behaved like this man in the story and it was not caused by demons. There are many conditions which affect us which come from a wounded or troubled mind and mental health problems can affect everybody. Sometimes we can all behave self-destructively and there are few people who do not have metaphorical demons which haunt them, even if they do not use the terminology of spiritual possession. In many people’s lives there have been traumas which have left their mark, perhaps bereavement, unemployment, bullying, physical or emotional abuse. We cannot see a broken mind, but we can see the affects of one and it is normal for people to suffer breakdowns where they can no longer cope.

We can learn something from the self harming which this man carried out. People who self harm, perhaps by scratching, cutting or burning themselves, do so because they are in a state of deep distress. It is a way of communicating and expressing what cannot be put into words or even thoughts, it is a bit like screaming inside. The person may be subject to feelings which overwhelm them, perhaps of anger, sadness, grief, self-hatred, fear, loneliness or guilt. In this context we can understand how self harm can be a way of dealing with these issues, getting the pain out, punishing ourselves, even if the person feels deeply embarrassed and conceals what they are doing.

We cannot be sure exactly what lies behind this story, however what is clear is that throughout his ministry Jesus dealt with people who were trapped by forces which oppressed them and ruined their lives. Jesus is just as concerned about mental suffering as he is about those who have no food, are sick or who are physically exploited. The people around this poor deranged individual put chains on him and locked him up. Mental health problems are still something which cause fear today and when confronted by symptoms of mental health problems there can be a tendency for all of us to run for cover. If a person is really troubled then our response is often to want to see them behind bars. This is what happened to the man in our story today, he is chained and kept under guard, sadly nothing much has changed. A joint review has just been published, entitled 'A Criminal Use of Police cells?' It was carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The shocking findings include evidence that there were 9,000 incidences in 2011-12 of people experiencing a mental health crisis being detained in police custody as a 'place of safety', rather than a health setting. The report also reveals that in over 80 per cent of cases the reason for detention in a police cell was that the person had either attempted suicide or self-harm, or indicated that they were thinking of doing so.

We will all meet people who have wounded minds, who feel different levels of depression even those who feel suicidal. It is important for us to be able to remember this episode in which Jesus showed his care and compassion for somebody who suffered mental torment. People must not be afraid of being honest with us about the issues which they face, they must not feel embarrassment or fear of judgement. Jesus seeks out those who are suffering inside and out, he is open and generous to those considered to be on the margins and he never makes people feel ashamed. Throughout his ministry Jesus tackled the very real and tangible evidences of evil which ruin people’s lives and bind them up. Jesus reaches out and literally touches those who are spiritually impure and rather than becoming contaminated, he brings healing and wholeness to that which he encounters.

Jesus demonstrates the kingdom of God on earth, and he does this by opposing the forces of evil which would rob the children of God of all that God hopes and intends for them. Jesus has power over things that frighten us and ruin our lives. We fight daily the battle of good versus evil, right versus wrong, Christ has come to free us from the demons like prejudice and pride, greed and guile. We all have things which possess us and from which we need liberation. With our modern world scientific world view we find it difficult to believe in demons, apparitions and unclean spirits. However we need only open our newspapers and we see evil all over the place and people suffering with terribly disfigured lives. Forces of evil exist all around us today, frightening forces which are diametrically opposed to God’s will. We see them in things like racial violence and domestic abuse. Evil temps people to throw their lives away in pursuit of things like money, or drugs. Our work is to speak the authority of Christ over the forces, that bind and control people and make their lives unwell. Jesus shows us that he has power over evil - that his love - that God's love, can defeat the worst enemy. In his ministry Jesus used his power and authority to help, to show kindness and not to hurt . He shows by his actions that - he heals people, he frees us and binds up the broken - broken hearts, broken bodies and broken minds. We are apart of a church which needs to constantly seek to find ways to bring God’s healing to our society to liberate people. Charles Royden
 

Meditation

Saints have Struggle Mother Teresa's book Come Be My Light (2007) shocked people with its descriptions of profound spiritual darkness that haunted her for fifty years. She writes that she didn't practice what she preached, and laments the stark contrast between her exterior demeanor and her interior desolation: "The smile is a big cloak which covers a multitude of pains… my cheerfulness is a cloak by which I cover the emptiness and misery… I deceive people with this weapon."She describes the absence of God's presence in many ways — as emptiness, loneliness, pain, spiritual dryness, or lack of consolation. "There is so much contradiction in my soul, no faith, no love, no zeal… I find no words to express the depths of the darkness… My heart is so empty… so full of darkness… I don't pray any longer. The work holds no joy, no attraction, no zeal… I have no faith, I don't believe." She rebukes herself as a "shameless hypocrite" for teaching her sisters one thing while experiencing something far different.

 

Hymns

  1. All my hope on God is founded
  2. Come on and celebrate
  3. Blessed assurance
  4. I heard the voice of Jesus say
  5. Lord for the years

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

 

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

 

Most High God, your compassion sees beyond fear. Hold with your mercy all whose mental state is diminished or damaged. Embrace them with your love that they may understand the depth of your compassion for all your children.

Gracious God, surround us and all who mourn this day with your continuing compassion. Do not let grief overwhelm your children, or turn them against you. When grief seems never-ending, take them one step at a time along your road of death and resurrection in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God of all Holiness and hope, cleanse the church from all that is selfish, complacent and worldly, that we might reflect your glory and bring hope to those who seek direction and meaning to their lives. Amen

God of all wisdom and honour, give our leaders integrity and our world the openness to listen and the courage to forgive. We pray for fair and free democracy to grow, remembering especially those countries where oppression and persecution remain. Amen

God of all healing and wholeness, give to those who are in pain or suffering all that they need both physically and spiritually. We pray for those in the caring professions, Heavenly Father, whose Son came not to be served but to serve; bless all who follow in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience and courage, they may minister in His name to the suffering, the friendless and the needy; for the love of Him who laid down His life for us all. Amen

God of eternity, as you welcome into your Kingdom those who have endured to the end, we thank you for the example of their lives. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We remember before God those who have died and light a candle to symbolise the light of Christ which eternally shines and brings hope. We remember any known to us who we no longer see. You turn our darkness into light, in your light shall we see light. Amen
God of power, may the boldness of your Spirit transform us, may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us, may the gifts of your Spirit be our goal and our strength, now and always. Amen

O God, who sanctifies time by the Sabbath, space by your presence, and life by your blessing: in the midst of everyday life, in the routine and mundane, may we know your glory in the witness of creation, your guidance in the still small voice, your love in the fellowship of believers, and your nearness by the indwelling of the Spirit, that day by day we may be ever re-kindled in love, renewed in spirit and faithful in service for the sanctification of all things under your gracious will, through Jesus the Messiah our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth, give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of the God; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

No shadow darkens the friendship which you offer to us, Lord Jesus Christ.
No trivial mood or passing fancy alters the constancy of your compassion.
No wind of change blows first hot and then cold, to blight the love which you offer.
You call us your friends and you are faithful and true to your word. 
Give us grace to follow in your ways, to be unashamed to own your name Lord Jesus Christ and speak that name to those whom we meet.

Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to you. Daily renew in us the sense of joy and fill our lives with your light and grace. Let us be of good courage that we may meet the ills that overtake us with strength of heart and singleness of purpose; through the might of Christ our Lord. Amen Louisa H M Soulsby, 1856-1927

 

Additional Resources

picture of planets in orbitThe Summer Solstice

Our planet takes 365 days to orbit the Sun – the basis of our calendar year
The Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees
This means that different parts of the globe receive varying amounts of sunlight during the year, creating the seasons

The shortest day and longest night occurs on December 22, the winter solstice. The longest day and shortest night occurs this week - 21st of June is the longest day of the year. It is called the Summer Solstice.

For those living in the northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is the day on which the earth, spinning on its axis, has its North Pole ‘tipped’ as far as it will go to face the sun. Because of this ‘tipping’ towards the sun, the northern hemisphere receives the longest hours of daylight of the year.

The further north or south you live in the world, the more pronounced the seasons are. For example, in the far north, Alaska has sunshine 24 hours a day during their summertime. If you live near the equator, the Sun doesn't shift up and down in the sky as much. This means that the length of day temperature doesn't vary as much. So countries near the equator only have two seasons - rainy and dry.

No one knows why the Earth's axis is tilted by 23.5 degrees. Whatever the reason, it's a good thing - if the Earth did not tilt, countries near the poles would be cold and dark all year round. If it tilted too much, the seasons would be very extreme – like on the planet Uranus. Here the winter lasts for 42 years in total darkness!

Lord God, Creator of light, at the rising of your sun each morning, let the greatest of all lights - your love - rise, like the sun, within my heart. (from the Armenian Liturgy)

Introduction


Elijah was not the last prophet left in Israel, but when he ran away from Jezebel and sought God in the mountains, we can understand that he probably felt very frightened and alone. He was a desperate man, hunted by the authorities and in fear of his life for very good reason. It was at this time of deep distress and panic that he ran to God and sought help. It was a legitimate thing for Elijah to do, all that he had done was to follow God's instructions, now he was a fugitive.

Of course he found that running to the mountains to Horeb was a good thing. In the quietness of the desert he found strength and a conviction that God was with him to see through to the work which must be done. In truth we all find ourselves in times of crisis and doubt. Christians leaders can begin to question the decision which they have made, doubt their own ministry and calling. It is at times like this that we need to stop and listen afresh to the voice of God.

This is true for prophets engaged upon great spiritual enterprises, it is also true for each one of us as we seek to be faithful to God in our daily lives and the 'ordinary' decisions which we have to take. In a sense we all do this, we seek God in the panic of exams, marital breakdown, unemployment or a bad visit to the doctor. The real advantage comes in not waiting until things go wrong before asking for God to become more intimately involved in our lives. Seek God now while he may be found, don't make God a last resort.

Commentary

Our journeys sometimes take us to destinations we don’t always expect. The further Elijah tries to travel from trouble the closer he journeys towards God. When we feel under pressure or in times of trouble or distress we often feel as if we need to get away from the anxiety that has come our way. Sometimes this is exactly the right thing to do. Other times we may need to face up to what is troubling us and deal with it ‘head on’. Whatever our course of action we need to use the opportunity to allow ourselves to be drawn in the direction of God’s loving and caring presence, a presence that Elijah came to realise was with him wherever he went. God was not just concerned with the Elijah who the won the victory at Carmel, He was concerned with the desperate Elijah who had fled to the wilderness, petrified by his powerful enemies, not knowing where to turn and in real fear of his life. Fortunately it is often in our sloughs of despond, as Bunyan would have expressed it, rather than in our mountain top victory experiences, that we find God,

Given the bonfire competition with the prophets of Baal at Carmel, where God came down in a consuming fire, we may have expected God to speak to Elijah from the fire. Elijah himself may have expected a meeting with God to involve the three symbols of His presence during the Exodus: wind, earthquake and fire, all of which are present in this encounter. But instead of revealing himself in the fire, God chose the whisper. Not the fire, not the wind, not the earthquake but the whisper, the ‘sound of sheer silence’ as it is translated in the New Standard Revised Version of the bible. The omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God chose to reveal himself in the paradox of the quiet silence, a concept that the mystics throughout the ages have pondered through the years as they wrestle with trying to comprehend the enormity of God and His presence pervading every atom of the creation, including us.

God is indeed so great that, like Elijah, we experience Him when we least expect him to appear. He reveals himself to us. We do not demand or expect him to answer on our terms. Even when we are under pressure, if we wait on God, He will answer. And though God’s voice may have been quiet, when God answered Elijah the message was loud and clear. Elijah was to return from where he had come from and anoint Hazael as king, continuing his ministry under the divine protection of God Himself. Not only was the manner of God’s speaking a surprise to Elijah, the message itself was not what he was expecting to hear.

However God chooses to speak to us, through the great noise and tumult of life or through the ‘sound of sheer silence’, like Elijah, we should follow His command and allow God himself leads us on and through our times of trouble, protected by His mighty presence, into the times of peace and glory which lie beyond.   Sam Cappleman

 

Commentary

God Chooses the Strangest People... Among early Christians, especially those with a strong Jewish background, the gospel story is rich in symbolism. It takes place across the lake from Galilee, in foreign, Gentile, territory. The demon-possessed man at the centre of the story is an outsider, probably a Gentile, and even if not, his demon-possession has rendered him unclean to the Jews. The encounter takes place in a cemetery, a place traditionally the abode of spirits, a place ritually unclean for the Jews and somewhere to be avoided in darkness. The pigs into which the spirits flee are unclean animals, and the sea into which they run was a place where demonic powers were thought to live. 'Legion' was not just a term meaning many, but a designation for a Roman army, and the one stationed in Palestine had a boar on its standard. It's a meeting of the holy and the unholy, the clean and the unclean, the Jewish world and the Gentile world. Above all it's a confrontation of evil powers with the Son of God, for whom they are no match. But the mission in Gentile territory is more than a triumph of good over evil. In travelling to the other side of the lake and exorcising the demons from the Gerasene man, Jesus demonstrates that His freedom and salvation is for all. No one is beyond His love and salvation, not even those the Jews would have thought beyond redemption. Jesus is all-powerful and all the forces of the ritually unclean Gentile world have been overcome. The Gentiles and their land have been exorcised and liberated. There can be no stronger demonstration that everyone is included in God's saving plan for the world.

Sadly the reaction of the majority of the population to this newfound liberation is strange. Perhaps failing to understand what's going on they react with fear and ask Jesus to leave. People always have the right to choose. The offer of salvation is open to all, not all will accept. The task that Jesus calls us to, is to present His gospel to the world with our words and our lives, sometimes in places we don't expect. The task of salvation is His alone and no one is beyond His love. Even in a world where people often seem possessed and obsessed by material things or entombed by events or circumstances God can, and does, break through, to bring freedom, peace and salvation. Rev Dr Sam Cappleman

 

Commentary

Liberation and Freedom

The mission in Gentile territory is more than a triumph of good over evil. In travelling to the other side of the lake and exorcising the demons from the Gerasene man, Jesus demonstrates that His freedom and salvation is for all. No one is beyond His love and salvation, not even those the Jews would have thought beyond redemption. Jesus is all-powerful and all the forces of the ritually unclean Gentile world have been overcome. There can be no stronger demonstration that everyone is included in God's saving plan for the world. Sadly the reaction of the majority of the population to this newfound liberation and salvation is strange. Perhaps failing to understand what's going on they react with fear and ask Jesus to leave. People always have the right to choose. The offer of salvation is open to all, not all will accept. The task that Jesus calls us to, is to present His gospel to the world with our words and our lives, sometimes in places we don't expect. The task of salvation is His alone and no one is beyond His love. Even in a world where people often seem possessed and obsessed by material things or entombed by events or circumstances God can, and does, break through, to bring freedom, peace and salvation. However we imagine the powers that oppress people, Jesus came to bring liberation from them.

Elijah certainly felt oppressed and frightened by the powers of darkness that surrounded Jezebel, Ahab’s wide and a religious fanatic who is furious with Elijah for killing the prophets of Baal and as a result has threatened that within a day she will kill him. Fear and exhaustion generated self destructive depression. But when Elijah focuses on God, rather than being oppressed and frightened, he has a new freedom and is without fear.
Ironically sometimes it’s the very presence of Jesus that makes people feel uncomfortable and even a little bit fearful. Sometimes this can be because He begins to challenge long held beliefs and preconceptions or perhaps because they way we live is far from the ideal God intends for our lives. Perhaps we all need to hear the God’s challenge to Elijah in our own lives – ‘What are you doing here?’ When we step back from all the frenzied activity and listen to the whisper which is God’s voice we will hear again His commission for us. Like Elijah, we have to trust and obey as we move forward along our journey of living out our faith.

God sometimes chooses the strangest people, in the strangest circumstances to do His work. In the gospel reading we see Jesus instructing the Gerasene man to return to his former home, and in so doing calling him to a new vocation, giving him a new purpose and point to his life. Under Jesus' direct instruction, the Gerasene demoniac becomes the first missionary to the Gentiles. Elijah was a lonely and frightened man, full of questions about his faith and even his reason for living. If God can use people like this, how might He want to use us? Sam Cappleman  

 

Prayer

O God, the King of Righteousness, lead us we pray, in the way of justice and of peace. Inspire us to break down all oppression and wrong, to gain for everyone their reward, and from every one their due service; that each may live for all, and all may care for each, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in our asking; have compassion on our weakness, and give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Lord, Jesus Christ, let me seek you by desiring you, and let me desire you by seeking you. Let me find you by loving you, and love you in finding you. Amen. St Anselm

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Meditation

In the Elijah narrative people are in the habit of making vows. Elijah said in chapter 17: "As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word" Now it is Queen Jezebel's time to make a vow: "So may the gods to do me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them (i.e. the dismembered prophets of Baal) by this time tomorrow". Elijah swore by Yahweh, God of Israel; Jezebel by the unnamed "gods." Nevertheless, her vow sparked fear in Elijah. He was terrified and ran for his life. So fearful was he that he not only left the area of Jezreel, in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but he ran until he came to Beersheba, the southernmost settlement in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Fear often sparks an overreaction. Instead of just locking the door, we bolt it with a double lock, carve a moat around the home, put alligators in the moat and drop the portcullis in front of the door. We will make ourselves so secure that even friends, who may want to help, have no means of entering. After Bill Long

Meditation

God sometimes chooses the strangest people, in the strangest circumstances to do His work. In the gospel reading we see Jesus instructing the Gerasene man to return to his former home, and in so doing calling him to a new vocation, giving him a new purpose and point to his life. Under Jesus' direct instruction, the Gerasene demoniac becomes the first missionary to the Gentiles. If God can do this with him, how might He want to use us?

Meditation

It is likely that the story of the Gerasenes demoniac had circulated for some time before it is recorded in Mark. Among Christians with a strongly Jewish background the story contained potent symbols. It took place in Gentile territory, not a holy land. Pigs are unclean animals. Cemeteries were the abode of spirits, to be avoided in darkness. ‘Legion’ was not a term meaning many, but a designation for one of Rome’s armies. The one stationed in Palestine had a boar on its standard. The sea was a place a danger, an abode of demonic powers. For people within such a system of values Jesus, by this act, has defied the forces of the Gentile world and exorcised the Gentile land.

 

  1. Glorious things of thee are spoken
  2. Seek ye first
  3. Lord of creation
  4. Fight the good fight
  5. For I’m building a people of power
  6. Breathe on me breath of God
  7. Guide me O thou great Jehovah
     

Prayers

O God, the King of Righteousness, lead us we pray, in the way of justice and of peace. Inspire us to break down all oppression and wrong, to gain for everyone their reward, and from every one their due service; that each may live for all, and all may care for each, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our needs before we ask, and our ignorance in our asking; have compassion on our weakness, and give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Lord, Jesus Christ, let me seek you by desiring you, and let me desire you by seeking you. Let me find you by loving you, and love you in finding you. Amen. St Anselm