January 29th, 2012
Three years ago, there was hope in the community. A decade of struggle, of marches and protests, voter registration and voting, had resulted in the election of a President with a promise to bring legalization of the undocumented. In spite of Barack’s betrayal, we continued to struggle. Last year, we achieved a hard fought for victory. We won protection from deportation for millions, but still no legalization.
Still, the long struggle has its casualties. The prospect of a choice between Romney, with his policy of self-deportation, and Obama, who has already disappointed us, promises even more discouragement. Many of our people are set upon by real demons, demons that destroy families and destroy the futures of young people as surely as the broken immigration law. The demons that possess people are not only in the movies. They are real and they are attacking many in our communities. We must understand that the spiritual struggle is intertwined with the social struggle and that the power to drive out demons comes from God both through prayer and through the common community of love and struggle.
Demons Get OUT of our People!
Galilee 4: In the Church in the Struggle
There are great events happening around us in the world and in this nation. There are great dangers: The main Republican candidate who might become the next President is Romney. Romney has said his immigration policy is to make the people self deport. He wants an Alabama solution where families have their water and gas and electricity cut off; where they are not allowed to work, where their children are not allowed to go to school. And this man is running for President.
On the other side we were faced with a great disappointment: the Broken Promise of Obama, the man we came to know as the False Prophet of Revelations. We have had to struggle every day of the last three years to get the protections for our families and our young people that we have finally won.
It seems no one really speaks for us. No one defends us. No one shares our troubles, our hopes and our dreams.
In spite of this, we find in our faith, in our love for our families, the courage to struggle, to survive- and to win real victories
And yet, at times it seems so difficult. In times of life threatening sickness, we feel alone. Nothing that is happening in the world can help us – and in times it seems that our own personal demons paralyze us and dominate us, imprisoning us in our own private hells.
Every Sunday, we turn back to the story of the people of God in the Holy Scriptures – because though it happened years ago, it is our story, again and again in human history.
Only 30 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, when people were telling the story of his life, his message, his miracles – and his resurrection – the people of God were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, many living and working in Rome, without papers, struggling to survive. To keep themselves going, they gathered on many evenings during the week to share the stories about Jesus, to pray together and to offer help to each other. This was called the Way, and it was the beginning of what today we call the church.
And often they felt the presence of Jesus, the presence of God and they called that the Holy Spirit. And among these people were found many miracles of healing and a strength of faith so great that “The Way” spread everywhere through the Empire. When the Empire fell, as all Empires fall, the people of faith and their Way continued, taking new forms all over the world.
We celebrate the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego because from that miracle came the understanding that the story of the people of God and the teachings and acts of Jesus belonged to his people and not to his oppressors.
The power of our faith, the faith which Jesus taught, is that it applied to each of our individual struggles and to the world we lived in. Some religions have tried to take that faith out of the world. And some religions have turned that faith over to politicians and governments which oppress us. BUT NOT JESUS – Jesus put that faith IN OUR HANDS AND IN OUR HEARTS.
Now when Jesus was beginning his ministry, he announced that “This was the year of the Lord’s favor. He said he came to bring Good News to the Poor and oppressed, the Good News that God was calling them to be his people, and giving them a mission to survive, to multiply in numbers and to be a light to all the nations.
In time, Jesus would gather thousands together, to feel and show their power. But he began by healing the sick. Remember what we learned last week. When he healed the leper, he not only took the sores away from his body, he restored him with his full rights in the society.
Now, Jesus came upon a man who was possessed by a demon. Some thought this man was just crazy –and dangerous to other people because he was so violent. He was self-destructive and tortured. He was also the talk of the town. Everybody knew about this crazy man who lived alone in the caves and everyone avoided him. He was alone in his own private hell.
What did Jesus do? He called for the Demon to come out of this man and he called for the demon to tell his name. And the Demon said, “My Name is Legion.”
Now “Legion” was the name of the units of the Roman Army, which were so feared, which kept the people in slavery. You see the man had let the oppression of the Roman’s get into his heart. He accepted their definition of him as less than human, as a piece of garbage to be used and thrown away. The fear of the Romans had grown into his body, joined with his human guilt, like a vine that became entangled in his arms and legs and internal organs. It was torturing him, controlling him, making him self-destructive, making him hate himself, and isolating him from everyone around him.
Jesus had power over this demon, this Legion of the Romans. The demon begged for mercy. The Legion said,”Let us live in the pigs”, the lowest animal in the land. Jesus put them in a herd of pigs and the pigs ran into the water and were drowned, the way Pharaoh’s army had drowned when God freed the people of God from slavery before by parting the waters!
Now some of the people were still afraid of the Romans and begged Jesus to leave them before the Romans came back. But the man who had been possessed said, “Let me go with you,” for he wanted to be with Jesus, now that he was free inside himself, free of the culture of death of Roman domination. He wanted to be with the God of Life. He wanted to be the people that would survive, would multiply in numbers and be a light to the nations!
After the death of Jesus, the people who were scattered around the Empire, even living in Rome without papers, they gathered to share this story with each other. They prayed together – and they drove out demons themselves and became stronger and stronger and they survived the Empire.
Today, the people of the south, the brown eyed children of the Americas, face difficult times. The U.S. Bankers have gutted the Mexican economy. Moreover, the U.S. has exported the drug trade and the guns and the culture of corruption south of the border. Last week it was reported that Mexico was the source of the largest production of pornography anywhere. This garbage and corruption came straight from the U.S. And this has driven many people to the north.
In the U.S. people came although they were not legally authorized to come. They were not authorized but they were utilized – for their labor, their taxes, their businesses and buying power. The multimillionaire Romney benefitted from their labor – and Obama was elected with the votes of their family members who were citizens.
As the people of God struggle today, as we have struggled mightily for the protections we have won this year, for the health care we are fighting for next year, there are still individuals who become isolated, possessed by the demons that were once called “legion”.
So today, we name them and call them out. We will not leave them alone to beat their heads on the rocks in the caves.
The young man who sees nothing else in life for him but to be a gangster, who picks up a gun to prove that he is the criminal that they say he is, who now finds himself facing a life in prison, tortured by his own self-hatred: we say, “You are our son, our brother, our friends and we love you.” You think you are a bad person. You have done bad things. But God forgives you and offers to make you brand new. And we forgive you because we understand those demons which are in all of us. We will stand with you.
And the young woman whose life has become confused; Who had babies when she was still a baby herself; Who got caught in the promises of glory and success in the media and could not find the real glory of a family that is faithful and strong and never betrays you; who is now driven by guilt and self-hatred and haunted by demons of death that tell her “You belong to us!”; To her we say, “you are not alone! You belong to us not the demons. You belong to God and God will make you new, step by step, day by day, until you are strong again, focused on your children, and focused on the struggle of your people.”
Some of the religious say the way out of these demons is just to “Believe in Jesus.” But Jesus said, “Even the Demons believe in Jesus, what I ask is for you to follow in my footsteps, to do as I do, to be a servant for your family and for your people and for your God!”
For the man who has been possessed by the demon of discouragement and given up working, who has turned to alcohol, who is violent even towards his own wife and children, we call out that demon, the demon who makes him feel worthless, and we surround him with the power of the Holy Spirit, who calls him as one of his people to survive, to resist, to fight back and to fight for his family and his people.
We heal the sick by prayer, which makes us strong together, which makes us really feel how much God wants us to know the fullness of life. We also heal by early detection of disease, by learning to take care of our bodies, and by forcing this nation to give us the health care and the technology that now they use just to make money. For our God is a God of life!
We drive out the demons of self-destruction by naming those demons, calling them what they are, evil spirits planted by those who would use us and throw us away, who would define us for their own purposes. We drive them out by rejecting those definitions. We take off their definitions of us the way we take off an old coat, an old coat that smells bad and doesn’t fit right. We drive out those demons by joining together in common faith and common struggle and common love – leaving nobody behind or alone!
Demons! Legion! Ice! Romney! Obama! I don’t fear you! I know you will pass away soon! I know you cannot separate me from those I love; I know you cannot separate me from my God! I know even death cannot separate me!
We are bound together in a faith that has outlasted many empires. Why would you fear the hatred and Hypocrisy of Romney? Why would you be discouraged by the cowardice and betrayal of Obama? Your God is Great! There is no God greater than your God!
Every day your children grow in numbers and strength. Take care of them. Love them. Teach them. Never abandon them, no matter what they do, no matter what they get caught up in. They will soon dominate this nation and free a whole continent!
I am telling you that there will come a day when you sit watching your television sets and see one of your own in the White House, striking down unjust laws, raising up the workers and the families they support. And you will still have your communities of faith to keep that man – or that woman – on course.
To those young people, surrounded by demons that seek to entangle your hearts, keep your eyes on the prize; keep your eyes on the cross. Jesus was crucified but rose from the dead and he still walks with you. You are God’s people and there is nothing you can’t do if you serve that God and the people he has blessed with his protection, with his purpose.
It is the season of the year of Galilee. It is the season when the power of the Kingdom is born again in our hearts this year, in our communion with each other. We have the power to protect each other from the demons outside and the demons that have infected us.
Get out Demons! Go into the pigs! Pigs go into the water! Later we gonna have a big barbecue! We are free! We are the people of God!
Together! Never Separated!
Amen? Amen! Amen!
The Holy Scriptures for the Fourth Sunday
in the Season of Galilee
Exodus 14:21-28 The Water Covered The Entire Army Of Pharaoh
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He jammed[a] the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward[b] it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
Mark 5:1-8 Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
Mark 5:9-20 “What is your name!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.