All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Tell me your Name: Demons & Pigs

Luke 8:26-39
June 23, 2013
Bonnie A. Perry


Come Holy Spirit….

Please be seated.

Good Morning!

The crowds are big and growing each day: a servant healed, a son raised, stories told, religious authorities prodded. He is the sensation. In a place and time without cable or internet, he is the attraction. He is their own personal reality TV show. So people come to see, to hear, to gather and afterwards to compare notes and dissect the stories.

Jesus’ group, because that sort of attention can be wearying, his group has hopped in the boats and crossed the several miles of the Sea of Galilee mostly to get a break. Once on the other side they are no longer in a place where Jews are the majority. The unspoken hope is they will find a day or so to be left alone. They have made their way to the Gerasenes’ land. There is some confusion does this story take place near Gerasa with is some 30 miles inland from the Sea of Galilee or is it Gadara—a smaller town much closer to the sea. Either way each is a gentile dominated area. They Jews are not there so who is going to care about their arrival or presence.

However, Jesus no sooner sets foot on the Gerasene soil, than a man comes to him from the tombs. A tormented soul, possessed in some way, who says to Jesus, “What do you want? Do not harass me! Why do you torment me?” Whoa—so much for a little beach get away.

The man is naked. He exists in the tombs amidst the decaying, rotting bodies of the town’s buried citizens. He is a man, we find out, who is possessed. Possessed by demons, mental illness what name we call it matters little. He is a man existing on the double yellow lines of life—in between, a time limited balancing act. Is he human or is he a demon? Is he alive or is he dead? He is betwixt, between both lanes.

Because of the demons that reside in his mind when he is in town the citizens chain him up, shackle him down. This restraint among the living he cannot bear. So with the strength only seen in the desperate he breaks those bonds, leaves the living and goes to dead. There he is naked, beyond vulnerable making his way between the putrid decaying corpses and the scavenging insects, rodents and animals. Is this a life he is living?

Then Jesus appears. The man approaches, screaming at Jesus. “Leave me alone. Do not torment me.” He has heard Jesus command the demons to leave or some such thing.

What does Jesus do? What does Jesus do? Please remember this please—What does Jesus do? He asks the man his name. ‘What is your name?’ We do not ask beasts their names or expect animals to offer us their names nor would we ever inquire of a demons what it would prefer to be called—we ask humans. We ask people, with whom we’d like to be in relationship. We say to them, “So tell me your name.”

“Legion,” the man says. “My name is ‘Legion’” for many demons had entered him. Legion it is. Then the man, or the demons, your pick the story is some 2000 years old you can read into it what you will. Some entity, residing in the man’s mind asks Jesus if rather than being cast into the abyss—“Can we please go into those pigs over yonder?” ‘Why not?’ says Jesus. Why not go into the pigs. Jesus is a Jew, it’s not like he cares about the pigs. Thus we may have the first biblical record of pigs functioning as “scapegoats”.

Here’s the thing—most who know this story remember the part about the pigs. They remember that the pigs run down the hill, or in an older translation they rush headlong off the cliff (fail to fly) and land in the Sea of Galilee. The pigs perish. That is what they recall. I am sure that this will make a most riveting scene when HBO gets around to filming this portion of the bible.

The folks who were witnesses as the swine flew….ran back to town and told everyone what happened. How the pigs are now dead. Yet having now made the obligatory quip about pigs flying it’s not where I want to focus.

What I find most compelling is that when the townspeople return to find the pigs in the sea they also find Legion, a man who was chained, sitting next to Jesus. Clothed, cleaned and in his right mind. I want to focus upon and ponder a man, exiled, now cared for, neglected and now tended to, sitting peacefully with the strangers who recognize his humanity.

The townspeople are terrified. Is it because of the change in Legion’s demeanor? Is it because the pigs became possessed and are now dead? Is it because the pigs were a major component of the town’s economy. The major consumer of said pigs being the garrisoned Roman army? And now with the supply gone the town has a whole new ‘legion’ for which they will have to contend. The townspeople are terrified, but that’s not my focus.


‘What’s your name?’ He asked him his name. Isn’t that always the way? Every prayer of substance, every prayer that matters doesn’t it always begin with, “Tell me your name?” Here we see, in the midst of all the other special effects, the power of our names, the beginning of all relationships.

On this bright summer morning may we remember and take heart, that no matter where we find ourselves, be we solid, upright citizens disturbed by a sudden downturn in the economy, or distressed, distraught and overwhelmed shells of ourselves existing in the tombs, Jesus comes to us with only one question: What is your name? The question that begins all relationships.

On the shores of galilee, on the streets of Chicago—“So, tell me your name?”

Amen.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry June 2013

 

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Dear Friends,

Emily, Colin, vestry member Joe Wernette-Harnden, and I have all just finished a week of intense training at the College for Congregational Development. It was a real honor for me to do my second round of training at "the college" with colleagues from All Saints'.

What has become ever clearer for me, doing this training as a group, is that we have the people in place for All Saints' to take our next big step in our community and world. I'm not even sure what that step may be. What I do know, although we are not perfect, we are a faith community called to take significant actions to alter the condition of our world, even as we feed ourselves and our neighbors, body and soul. With our gifts, resources, leadership, and faith we have no other choice but to take part in and initiate movements of change and meaning. Our vestry (governing body) has been exploring these questions for the past several months, they'll be working on them even more in the month of August. I hope that we'll have some thoughts to guide a congregation-wide conversation in the fall. I'm thinking that congregational conversation may happen on Sunday, October 22. It's all very much in flux and formation now-but I wanted to let you know a bit of what I've been thinking about and what our vestry has been contemplating.

Tomorrow our former seminarian, current youth group leader, and Bishop Anderson house Chaplain, Paul Goodenough will be our preacher tomorrow. I've had a preview of his sermon and I found it wonderfully challenging and intriguing. Emily will be celebrating and Colin and some of our choir members will be creating wonderful music.

I'll be away tomorrow and for pretty much the remainder of the summer. I'll be doing some paddling trips in Canada and Scotland and spending some significant time in Virginia with my dad and siblings.

Please know how very much I enjoy being a priest at All Saints!

All the best,
Bonnie

We are very excited that the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be spending a weekend with us this fall, September 23 and 24. Kelly was formerly the Canon Theologian at our National Cathedral. In the fall she will become the first Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, now located at Union Theological Seminary. We've invited Kelly to spend the weekend with us so that we might again return to our work on confronting racism. Kelly is an amazing preacher and theologian and we are beyond honored that she is making time in her incredibly busy schedule to be with us. Look for more details in the next few weeks on the spirituality and theology that we will be exploring together. 

In the event that you find yourself looking for some interesting summer reading, here are some books she has suggested we investigate: HomecomingThe Color of Law, and one by Kelly called Stand Your Ground. She also suggested that watching 13th on Netflix would be helpful.
 
Racism is an issue that we are called to confront and challenge and end. It is not something that will just die a gentle death. Our hope is that with our time with Kelly and one another, we may again return to this important work. 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.

 

Summer Lineup Selected
 
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. The meetings start at 7:30 PM usually at the home of a member. The locations and further details are on our Facebook page
 
Here is the schedule for the next several months:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

     

    Gardening at 10am
     
    churchschool2010
    For the rest of June and July - although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer - Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.
     
    At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Community Services kitchen and food pantry

    We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
     
    We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

     Sundays at 2pm

    breakersbibleWe are very excited to announce that every Sunday at 2:00 pm, All Saints' offers something new at the Breakers - An Evening Prayer Service! Our first event was Sunday, December 4th, and went marvelously well - we had 13 attendees! Folks are very pleased that there's a Protestant service being offered in addition to the current choices (which are Catholic and Moody Bible.) The Prayer Service itself is printed in large print and in bulletin style with scripture taken each week from the Common Lectionary.

    The weekly service starts at 2:00 pm, upstairs on the second floor Meditation Room, and lasts about 15 minutes. Please contact Paul Mallatt if you have questions, or comments at 773-860-4649. When you can, stop by the Breakers (5333 N Sheridan Rd) where the parking is free (for 2 hours), the coffee is hot, and the folks are friendly!

     

    Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 

     

    RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.
     
    If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.

     

    helloDo you feel called to create an open, welcoming, hospitable environment at All Saints? Do you like meeting and connecting with people? Join the new Hospitality Ministry! Members of the Hospitality Ministry will help the clergy and vestry create a welcoming culture by greeting new members, engaging new faces at coffee hour, and helping connect new members of All Saints with our various programs.

    Interested? Contact Diane Doran or Michelle Mayes. Include "Hospitality Ministry" in the subject line.

    Our new Associate Rector, Emily Williams Guffey, is enjoying getting to know everyone in our congregation. Help her put names and faces together by adding yourself to our online directory!

    If you are a member of All Saints' and haven't already registered for the directory, please contact our resident web guru Jim Crandall at website@allsaintschicago.org and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

    Join the All Saints' Care Ministry! 

    casseroleThe Care Ministry at All Saints' is a quiet one, simply providing meals after a new baby arrives, after surgery, during an illness. Because when life gets complicated, dinner is often the last thing on our minds--but sometimes a meal and visit from a friend is exactly what we need!

    If you can provide a meal, give someone a ride, or run an errand once in awhile, please email care@allsaintschicago.org. You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.

     

    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.

     

    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    This week’s stories of the bell tower: The beams and posts in the bell tower are being filled with epoxy and fungicide to prevent future insect damage and to restore their strength and integrity. Here are some photos of the work currently taking place. Everywhere you see white is where the post or beam is being rebuilt, restored and protected.
     
    The blue hue in the photo is from the tarp surrounding the bell tower enabling Ron Young and his crew to continue working in the dropping temperatures.
     
     

    Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.


    Sunday Service Times

    8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
    9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
    10:00 am Children's Church School
    10:00 am Coffee Hour
    11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir

     

    Contact Us

    4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

    Phone (773) 561-0111

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    Information about pastoral care.

     

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    Bonnie on Huffington Post

    Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

    Pain. Change. Hope.

    November 15, 2015

    What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today?

    October 4, 2015

    Wake Up Calls

    September 6, 2015

    Christmas Reminds Us That We, Like God, Are Human, Too

    December 24, 2014

    The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

    November 30, 2014

    Pulpit Swap

    The Pulpit Swap between St Thomas and All Saints is part of our ongoing effort to bring our parishes closer together as we engage in a conversation about systemic racism and how we can work together to forge new possibilities and outcomes.

    Going Home—Changed

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church on October 16, 2016.  

    When Prayers Go Unanswered

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Dr Fulton L Porter celebrating at All Saints Episcopal Church on Oct16 2016.