Our texts this week comes from Isaiah 65 and Luke 8.
In the gospel, Jesus encounters a man with a demonic possession. He is roaming the wilderness naked and he is living in a tomb. Jesus asks the demon, ‘what is your name?’ and the demon responses ‘Legion for we are many’.
I find the concept of demons hard to accept, because the notion of a pure source of evil make me uncomfortable. And when I have texts like this Legion text, I have to discern how literal and how figuratively to interpret it. As I walked my dog this week, it came to me. “We are Legion, we are one but we are many”.
Last week, the congregation prayed for the victims of Pulse although we didn’t know all the details yet. This week the story continued to unravel.
A friend of mine shared that being from Orlando she knew victims. She also had dear friends who survived but now have survivor guilt, and that Pulse was a warm, loving, welcoming place for all people despite their sexual orientation. It was a place that she held a dear place in her heart.
Speaking with her and others, the question ‘why’ has been asked and the media this week has sought to answer the question ‘why’. But we seek an answer that is simplistic; that is easy; that is just one answer, because if it is just one answer [then] we can solve the problem. So the media has focus on three issues, one being terrorist organizations that have perverted Islamic beliefs, the other is homophobia which brings to question the complicity that is human sexuality, and the concern about how the gunman could have easy access to an assault rifle bringing to mind gun control and those complications.
As a colleague pointed out, we tend to wait to blame something that makes the individual different than ourselves. Because if we can do that, we can put it in the dark too. We can hide it away where it is out of our sight, and therefore out of our mind UNTIL something like the mass shooting at Pulse happens and we are confronted face-to-face with evil.
We are Legion, we are one, but we are many.
The bottom-line is that there is one, simplistic answer. And that answer is hate. Because like Legion, hate is one thing but as many faces. Hate is that which seeks to divide us, whether it me Democratic or Republican, whether it be LBGTQI or straight, whether it is based upon religion, racism, sexism, ageism, add in any other “-ism” you can think of. It is just the many faces that is hate, the many faces that is Legion.
In the Isaiah text, God has us in dark tombs. God is standing there, God as love is standing there with an extended hand saying ‘here I am’. And in our gospel text echoes that as well. Jesus, confronted face-to-face with Legion does not back down. And as Christ, as God, as love incarnate in human flesh and bone extends his hand out and says ‘here I am. Love wins. Love is greater than hate. Love will conquer hate.’
I may not have the answers to the problems of our world, but this week I’ve clung to the promise of God to be ever-present knowing that God has a hand extended out. A hand of love extended out to reconcile and unite us all in love. And to that Thanks be to God!
Scriptures: Isaiah 65: 1-9 and Luke 8: 26-39.
Originally Preached on 19 June 2016