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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Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    

 

How much longer will the killing continue? 
 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
     
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
     
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
     
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
     
    Following the 11:00 Worship service we will have a Newcomer’s Brunch at O’Shaughnessy’s at 12:15. Please join us!
     
    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
     
    All my best,
    Bonnie

     

    Annual Bake Auction

    Annual Bake Auction

    Dear Friends,
     
    For nineteen years, All Saints' has been creating an Africa Bake Auction that changes people's lives. Last year we raised over $26,000 by buying cakes that we baked! With the money raised during the auction between our 9am and 11am worship services, our young people chose to fund:
     
  • wells and clean water for people in South Sudan
  • a women's collective tea store, creating a place for women entrepeneurs
  • scholarships for Sudanese refugees in Uganda
  • financial aid for two scholars working on LGBT issues in Africa
  • health care for women, children, and men in the Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
  • In terms of what it buys in South Sudan, our money is multiplied by a factor of ten. And now, more than ever, our assistance is needed. What you do--what we give--helps people so very much.
     
    So come with your debit cards, bring your friends, bake some goodies, and get ready to make an investment in the lives of people in South Sudan.
     
    Susan and I will be spending at least $750 to make a difference. I'll be baking my no frills, simply chocolate, kinda ugly, really tasty cake!
     
    And during our worship services on Sunday, each offering that isn't marked "pledge" will be given to our friends in South Sudan.  
     
    Please start baking, and email a title and brief description to Polly Tangora so she can streamline check-in by preparing your bid forms in advance. Then post your amazing goodies on Facebookor Instagram, tagging All Saints' and using the hashtag #AfricaBakeAuction. 
     
    All the best, 
    Bonnie
    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage

    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage

     

    Dear Friends,

    I invite you to join me on a pilgrimage to Washington DC on March 24th to support the young people from Florida who are marching in memory of their slain friends, murdered in their high school.

    I believe this journey to DC or a shorter trip to Downtown Chicago needs to be an intrinsic part of our Lenten Discipline this year. This country can no longer sigh and wring our collective hands and be lulled into thinking that there is nothing else we can do. We can show up. We can show up by the thousands, by the hundreds. That showing up begins when each one of us changes a plan and alters a schedule to be there to show we care. Because we do. 

    For DC, we’ll leave Friday evening at 5:00, March 23rd. Click here for more information and to purchase bus tickets. We’ll March during the day on the 24th. And return Saturday night so that we all may be back in time for Palm Sunday Services, March 25th. Know that the procession we take part in on Saturday will be a Palm Sunday Procession for the world and not just our church.

    I hope you can be there, with your family and friends in either DC or Downtown.

    All my best,

    Bonnie

     

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

    Inquirers’ Class

    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

    Bags for RCS

    Bags for RCS

    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!

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

    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.

    Donate to The 1883 Project

    Donate to The 1883 Project

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

    1883 Construction web 

    Fixing This Old Church

    Fixing This Old Church

    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.

     

     


    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.