The madman cried out to Jesus, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" In our worship today let us explore what Jesus has to do with us and invite him to heal our brokenness.
Invitation to Confession:
Jesus, we often find ourselves thinking, saying and doing things that we quickly regret.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, sometimes we are so pleasant to others, but at other times we are extremely unpleasant.
Christ, have mercy.
Jesus, it's as though we are different people and like Legion, cannot always control how we are.
Lord, have mercy.
Luke 8:26-39 (NRSV)
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.  As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me"--  for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times 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 wilds.)  Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him.  They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.  Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.  Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.  When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.  Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they 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.  Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.  Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.  The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,  "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Legion, the madman who lived among the tombs, was so fragmented within himself that he became lots of different people all at the same time. To a lesser extent, this is true of all of us. We are different people at different times. Jesus healed Legion so that he was united within himself, and became always the same and therefore at peace. Jesus can do the same for us today.
This is a story exploring how we too can be very different at different times and how Jesus can heal our inner fragmentation.
When James was four, he saw a brass band. He couldn't remember the circumstances or even where he was at the time, but he never forgot the sight of the band marching down the street in their uniforms, or the sound of their trumpets and bugles and trombones and drums. After that, all James wanted was a trumpet of his own.
Whenever his birthday or Christmas came round, James would ask for a trumpet. Once, he had a toy trumpet peeping out of his Christmas stocking, but although he was pleased at the time, he soon lost interest in it because he couldn't play tunes like a proper trumpet, he could only pretend.
By the time he was ten, James was quite desperate for a trumpet. But all his pleas fell on deaf ears. His parents kept reminding him of the time he had tossed the toy trumpet aside. "It would be like that all over again," they said. "Trumpets are very expensive and you wouldn't look after it properly. Besides, we don't like the noise."
James pouted and shouted and roared and stamped, but it made no difference. He was so angry that he began to do everything he could to upset his parents. If they couldn't listen to him, he certainly wasn't going to listen to them. So James was constantly rude to them, he slammed doors, he played his CDs as loud as he could, he refused to go out with his parents and he made life very difficult and very unpleasant at home.
At school, James was completely different. He was popular with the other children and the teachers liked him because he was always polite and pleasant and always interested in his work. When the school received a grant to buy musical instruments, James was thrilled to discover that they had bought a couple of trumpets as well as other brass instruments. He begged to be allowed to learn the trumpet.
The school was pleased that he was showing os much interest and encouraged him. "We'll have to send a letter home," explained his teacher, "to ask your parents' permission. If they agree, you can learn the trumpet here at school."
Instantly, James knew he had a big problem. Why should his parents agree to him learning to play the trumpet when they had always refused, didn't like the noise, and when he was always so nasty to them? James knew it would serve him right if they refused and his chance disappeared forever. He didn't know what to do.
When he went home he tried very hard to be agreeable, but it felt false and uncomfortable and his parents looked at him suspiciously. James felt so anxious and so confused that he rushed into his bedroom and slammed the door and refused to come out. He knew of course that he had only made things worse, but he couldn't seem to help himself. Somehow, he always behaved badly at home whether he wanted to or not.
As a last resort and because he couldn't think of anything else to do, James threw himself on his bed, shut his eyes tightly and prayed, "Please help me, God. And please help Mum and Dad." He didn't think it would do much good, but at least he'd tried.
Then he went downstairs, still not knowing what to do. His mother looked at him with sad eyes, but then she smiled as she always did. And suddenly, without quite knowing what he was doing, James heard himself say, "I'm sorry. I do love you and Dad. I'm sorry I've been so horrid. I wish I was nicer to you."
His mother's eyes softened and she held out her arms and hugged him. It felt so good that James began to sob and sob. He wasn't sure why he was crying, but his mother seemed to understand. She didn't say a word, just held him tightly and stroked his hair until his tears ceased. Then they began to talk. James poured out all his feelings and the hurt which had been pent up inside him for so long, and his mother told him again and again how much both she and his father loved him, but how they hadn't known how to help him or what to do.
A long time later, James told his mother about the school trumpet. "But it doesn't matter any more, Mum," he finished. "I can learn when I grow up. I'm just so happy to be OK with you and Dad again."
"We'll see," promised his mother.
James did learn the trumpet at school and in time, after a lot of hard practice, became such an excellent trumpet player that when he grew up, he played in a band and wore a smart uniform. But more than that, he became someone who was always happy in himself and always the same, no matter where he was or who he was with.
And he thanked Jesus for that.
Lots of small squares of coloured paper, cut from magazines, or several packets of small gummed shapes.
A large sheet of paper
Glue, if necessary
Coloured pencils or felt tips.
The task today is to make a mosaic picture, showing how small fragmented pieces which are meaningless on their own can work together to make a beautiful whole.
Talk to the children about Legion, the man who was so disturbed that he thought he was lots of different people at the same time. When Jesus healed him, he became one person, united in himself and made well. Tell the children that you're going to use lots of little pieces to make something beautiful and ask them what picture they'd like to make? Then draw a simple outline of the picture (perhaps a person or a fish or a cross or Legion amongst the tombs) and discuss which colours the children want to use on each part of the picture. Help them to sort the colours appropriately (if you wish, you can make some interesting shading effects) and help the children to glue the mosaics onto the picture. Display the finished picture in church, with a short explanation written underneath it.
Healing God, bless all the many different branches of the Christian church. May we discover more and more points of unity until we become one in mind and spirit.
Healing God, pour your healing power into the nations of the world, so that we may begin to trust and love each other in order that war and violence may end and peace may reign.
Healing God, may each of us be aware when we are acting unreasonably. Heal our brokenness so that we may be the same inside as outside and the same within our families as with other people.
Healing God, we ask your help for those who are sick. May they be healed by your presence and by your power. We name them before you....
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ
pour into your hearts and minds
so that you may be united
within yourselves and with him.
And the blessing of God almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you now,
be in your homes and in your families
and with all those whom you love
and for whom you pray,
now and always.