The Cost of Following

Today’s passage tells of Jesus’ encounter with a demon-possessed man. This isn’t the only story about possession in the Bible, but it’s one of the more dramatic: exorcised demons cast into a herd of pigs, a man healed and restored to society, and a community struggling to grasp what God was doing right before their eyes.

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Then the World Will Know

In all my time of writing for the Word From Below, in all the reflections I have submitted, I have never felt a text so relevant and impossible as the prayer of unity we find in our lectionary text this week. In my country, and in many places around the world, it seems that division is at the center of our cultures and our identities. It feels like our unity is defined by enemies — by what we stand against, more than what we stand for. Is that true unity? Is that where our identity should be found?

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Loving and Forgiving Enemies

As I read our lectionary passage, I find the suggestion to love our enemies, and do well to those who abuse you, profoundly counter intuitive. A blessing for a curse, prayer for your abuser, love for hate; this seems like a ridiculous, if not dangerous, way to live. I grew up in a neighborhood where casting judgment on outsiders and knowing your enemy were keys to survival. To be honest, it was a pretty good way to build a community of brothers. We all knew who we hated, and it was the glue that held our corner of the neighborhood together.

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Becoming an Ass

When I think of baby messiahs, angelic messengers, shepherds and sheep, I think of a church Christmas pageant when I was in fifth grade. Christmas Pageants were always somewhat painful for me. Even as a child I didn’t think they expressed “God with us” — what theologians call the Incarnation.

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Moments into Monuments

God’s glory is the divinity of seeing and proclaiming the Passion and the resurrection, even in the darkest of places. The way of Jesus journeys into the desert and sees bread where others see rocks. The divine glory sees the imago dei in a demon possessed boy that others have marginalized.

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The Vulnerability of Asking

We live in a fast food, speedy lube, online banking society. Reading today’s passage, it’s hard for many of us to see prayer outside of this cultural lens. “Ask and it will be given” seems like a loaded statement, filled with pie in the sky, cake on your plate, North American theology.

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Jesus Loses his Family for his Father’s House

I have always thought this to be an awkward Gospel story. Mary and Joseph lose their child and don’t realize it for a whole day! My sister has seven kids and forgot one at the mall once. But, Mary and Joseph only have one child—and they lost him? Talk about free-range parenting!

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