The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Go In Peace
(Proper 7) The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 20 June 2007 (Father’s Day)
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What is your name? It’s a basic question in human conversation.
This morning, Divine service began with a name: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Shortly after that invocation, we heard two more names during the rite of Holy Baptism answering the question, “How are you named?” Parents answered for their children and two new children of God received their “first names” in the Triune name of the Lord.
Jesus asks a very similar question in the Holy Gospel this day: What is your name? He has great interest in people. Last Sunday, Jesus healed a sinful woman and was served by faithful women. After that text and before today’s reading from Luke 8, He tells the parable of the sower, explains why He tells parables, reminds us to not put our light under a jar, and to hear the Word of God. After calming a storm, we hear the following:
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time 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 desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
A simple question: What is your name? It had consequences. This group of many demons knew who Jesus was. They knew He was the son of the Most High God. And these demons knew He had authority over them—authority to judge, condemn, and torment. They didn’t want to go back to hell. So, in an exorcism that reminds us we are not in Jewish lands, a legion of demons enters a herd of pigs and is drowned. This story isn’t really kosher. And there was an immediate reaction from the owners.
34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and 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. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The 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.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
Jesus, please leave. The people saw great power in the name of Jesus, but they feared it was only for judgment. The man who had been healed of demonic affliction knew better. There is healing and comfort in the name of Jesus. And he told all who would listen how much Jesus had done for Him.
That is what Christians do on a Sunday morning. God speaks in His Word and we repeat these true words back to Him. We sing of His salvation in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We call upon the name of Jesus in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and praise. We rarely see such obvious miracles like the exorcism from Luke 8, yet ignore the miraculous of the every day.
As a pastor, I am honestly amazed when people come to church. And not just on Sundays in the summertime. I am humbled to see more of you in Bible class to study the book of Revelation that we had even during the spring, winter, and previous fall. Thanks be to God! I am amazed how God miraculously claims sinful human beings through water and His Word. I rejoice that Words of forgiveness create the reality of forgiveness, even as Jesus says “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” to give you forgiveness, life and salvation.
This morning, I would also like to share with you a little of what life is like “behind the scenes” for a pastor. There’s always plenty to do in the Lord’s service. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and your service to the Lord and this congregation. One of the things that is surprising to new Christians (and new pastors) is that there is much that is so…ordinary going on.
Children are born. Emergencies come up. Family and relationships face crises. There are joys and sorrows and tears for both. We say goodbye to loved ones who fall asleep in Christ. And all along the way we have the Word of Christ. He promises to dwell with us where two or three are gathered in His Name.
Yes, when a communion Sunday comes along, I intentionally plan shorter sermons than for non-communion Sundays. Some weeks I get more visits done than others. Occasionally the school dominates my attention because of high-priority events there.
Whether I am writing a sermon or preparing Bible Class, leading chapel for Martin Luther Grammar School or leading Sunday Divine Service, visiting shut-ins at home or in the nursing home, or doing other evening visits or attending meetings, the Lord is at work in humble means: words, water, bread, wine, and his Christians hearing and doing His Word.
What is your name? You are a Christian, a little Christ, adopted into God’s family by water and the Word, In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.