Regardless of our position on the personification of demons in the enlightened age, it is hard to deny that we are surrounded by the demonic in our world today—haunted by it, perhaps. And sometimes it affects families within the life of the church. We might name it mental illness, or addiction, or systemic racism, or the cycle of poverty. That there are powers and principalities in the world over which we have little power seems undeniable.
But what does that and what do demons have to do with worship? We proclaim that there is help available. We worship a power and a presence greater than all that is broken around us and within us. Worship is an opportunity to celebrate all that is possible in Christ.
Two weeks ago, we acknowledged that the question “can anything good” be asked about us. In this text, the question asked could also be our question: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” It was a question afraid of change, a question to a greater power than self. Ultimately, it is a question of surrender and then of transformation. We ask if Jesus has come to destroy us, destroy our lifestyle, destroy our image of ourselves, our self-confidence, our self-dependence.
We are people on a journey of transformation, and it isn’t always easy. Today, we acknowledge the hard work of becoming disciples and of setting aside the weight that clings so closely, of handing over the reins of our lives so that we can be led into wholeness. And so, we can proclaim wholeness to the broken world around us.
Let this worship not be burdened by defining the demonic, but by praising the power that conquers all that would press us down, by praising the one who breaks the chain of oppression in whatever forms it presents itself. And let us join in the proclaiming of this setting free, not fearing any power, not shrinking from any evil but offering grace and a way to wholeness.
If your church houses a recovery group, then your church is a part of the proclamation against evil. Find a way to celebrate that mission and ministry housed in your building. Be careful not to do away with anonymity, but rather than talking about the strain on the facility, give God thanks that you are fulfilling your baptism vows. If you have anyone working in the mental health field, say thank you and bless them; better yet, commission them for carrying out the mission of the church in their work each day. If your volunteers – ushers and hospitality team, Sunday school teachers and childcare workers - have been trained on how to respond to people with mental issues, then bless them today.
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? What changes are you making in us and among us? How are you recruiting us for the task of overcoming evil, ending oppression, bringing justice to an unjust world? We are yours; we commit ourselves to you again, right here, right now.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.