Friday, January 26, 2018

Preaching about Demon Possession

My pastor asked if I'd like to preach the sermon this Sunday.  He'll be there to do the other parts of the worship service, but if I preach the sermon, he can more fully enjoy the last few days of his sabbatical without having to develop a sermon.

I was happy to say yes.  This Sunday we read in the Gospel of Mark about the first days of the ministry of Jesus.  He does what every young man does when he's just starting a mission:  he casts out demons.

Ah, demon possession!  Count me in!

I've written about demons before.  How do we modern folks see this act of casting out demons?

When I was young, my mother had a sensible explanation:  ancient cultures didn't understand mental illness, so demon possession was how they explained diseases of the brain.  It makes a lot of sense.

Lately, though, I wonder if we dismiss this idea of demon possession too quickly.  Perhaps it's a metaphor that can speak to us in other ways.

In this meditation on this Sunday's Gospel, I consider the smart phone as modern demon possession.  On Sunday, I'll talk about the other aspects of modern life that possess us, including political discourse that doesn't serve us well.

I feel lucky that I'm part of a church tradition that welcomes the gifts and talents of women.  I'm lucky that my particular church is open to the idea of lay leadership.

What I treasure most is when women of the congregation who remind me of my grandmother come up to me to whisper, "I wish you would preach more often."  I can't imagine my own grandmother, who is at least a generation older than most of the women of my church, I can't imagine my own grandmother saying such a thing.  She did not approve of the ordination of women, although we didn't talk much about it.  She didn't approve of women wearing pants to church.  She was scandalized by the sight of a woman in blue jeans taking communion.

Still, I miss her.  She had some wisdom that I wasn't always willing to recognize at the time.  She resisted the idea of doing work on Sunday or doing shopping or washing the car.  When I was younger I wondered how we'd ever get everything done if we just took Sunday off.  Now I see how her ideas make sense.

If you're in South Florida and want to join us on Sunday, I'll be preaching at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pembroke Pines at 10 a.m.  We're at 7150 Pines Boulevard:  come and see!

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