1I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
2I held out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and offering incense on bricks;
4who sit inside tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
with broth of abominable things in their vessels;
5who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all day long.
6See, it is written before me:
I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
I will indeed repay into their laps.
7their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together,
says the Lord;
because they offered incense on the mountains
and reviled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
full payment for their actions.
8Thus says the Lord:
As the wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, “Do not destroy it,
for there is a blessing in it,”
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;
my chosen shall inherit it,
and my servants shall settle there.
The Word of the Lord.
19But you, O Lord, be not far away;
O my help, hasten to my aid.
20Deliver me from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog.
21Save me from the lion’s mouth!
From the horns of wild bulls you have rescued me.
22I will declare your name to my people;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.
24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord’s face hidden from them;
but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.
25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of nations shall bow before God.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
who rules over the nations.
23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
The Word of the Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 8:26-39
26Then [Jesus and his disciples] arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When we have Good News – we love to tell other folks ALL about it. We tell our family – friends – co-workers – neighbors – and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We may even tell total strangers – if our Good News is good enough.
We tweet – post – chat – text – blog and talk about it. Sometimes endlessly. We put it on yard signs – bumper stickers – coffee mugs and t-shirts. All – because sharing good news is just so much fun!
Sharing our good news never seems to get boring or old or dull or tedious.
In our Gospel reading for today we met a man called Legion who ended up having some incredibly – wildly – wonderfully awesome Good News. But not at first. Because when – we first meet Legion – his life is wretchedly – miserably horrible. Absolutely – positively nothing – about Legion’s life can be called good.
Legion first met Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee just moments after Jesus and the disciples arrived in the country of the Gerasenes. As soon as Jesus steps out of the boat – there is Legion – a violent – terrifying and likely terrified outcast from society. He is shouting and naked and boldly questioning Jesus.
This wild – tumultuous man calls himself Legion. But Legion isn’t the name his parents gave him. Rather the name – Legion – points to the incredible depth of his suffering and torment. He calls himself Legion – because he is possessed by that many demons!
A Roman legion was made up of about 6,000 soldiers. And these men were well-trained – tough soldiers. They were terrifying. Roman legions crushed their enemies. They destroyed them. They decimated their enemies.
The demons are doing this to Legion. They are crushing and destroying him. They have turned his life into a wasteland of despair – misery – and endless suffering.
Consider the pain and suffering Legion faced each moment of his life. Image 6,000 demons tormenting you.
These demons have stolen Legion’s happiness – dignity – his family and friends – his safety – and freedom. They have taken everything from Legion (even his name!) and left him with almost NOTHING!
Until – the day Legion meets Jesus. And Jesus commands all of those horrible – evil – vile – wretchedly cruel demons to leave Legion. In that moment everything changes for Legion!
The next time we see Legion – he is sitting at Jesus’ feet. He is clothed and peaceful. He is happy and content. Gone is the wild man who ran naked through the tombs. Gone is the man who was so violent he could tear apart shackles and chains. Gone is the man who terrified everyone – except Jesus!
Thanks to Jesus – Legion has a new life. A happy – peaceful life!
As Jesus prepares to leave – Legion begs to go with him. Legion wants to stay with the man who saved him from such misery and torment. But Jesus tells him – NO?!?!
But why? Why would Jesus tell him no? Legion has suffered so much – and endured such horrors. Why would Jesus deny Legion this simple wish?
Jesus says no – because he has important plans for Legion. Jesus wants Legion to tell his family and friends about the amazing things God has done for him.
So – Legion does just that. Legion told everyone he met about Jesus.
Today’s Gospel reveals the amazing power – incredible compassion – and the glorious love of our Lord. We see that our Lord is powerful – loving – kind and merciful.
And we can see something else.
Legion’s story is also about being touched by the power – compassion and love of our Lord and then responding by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with other folks.
Legion had Good News to share. So – he shared it. Legion told others about the love – grace – and mercy he had experienced when he met Jesus. Legion did not keep the Good News of God’s love to himself.
And we too have seriously awesome news to share. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Who heals our brokenness. Who redeems and forgives us. Who saves us from eternal death. And promises to love and care for us for all eternity.
There is no denying our news is awesome news – and just too good to keep to ourselves.
But unfortunately – most of us will act like the Good News of Jesus Christ is the Sorta Boring News of Jesus Christ.
We won’t tell anyone – about Jesus and what he has done for us. We won’t tweet or text or post about it. We won’t chat about Jesus with our families. We may even forget to say a quick thank you to God before devouring lunch. Which is just so sad.
Imagine if Legion and the disciples had never bothered to tell anyone about Jesus and his love. Imagine if they had kept silent. Imagine if they had left it up to someone else to spread the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy.
If they had done that – none of us would know about God’s amazing grace – love and mercy.
What would your life be like if you did not know about God’s love for you?
So – don’t act like the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy is the Sorta Boring News of Jesus Christ. Don’t keep such Good News to yourself.
Talk about your faith. Share the Good News of God’s amazing grace – incredible mercy – and powerful love with the people you know and love. Invite someone special to church or to Vacation Bible School or to the spaghetti lunch here at church next month so that they can meet your church family.
Because the Good News of Jesus Christ is just too good to keep to ourselves. And truly that is very Good News indeed. AMEN.