“CASTING OUT DEMONS”
"And he went all
through Galilee preaching in their synagogues
and driving out devils" (Mark 1: 39)
the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two
and gave them authority over evil spirits” (Mark 6:7)
Do you believe in a supernatural devil and evil spirits which possess people?
In 1977 Sothebys auctioned an
old mediaeval letter written in Latin.
The address at the top of the page was
"apud Centrum terrae" - the centre of the earth
The letter was signed “Diabolus” - the devil.
Now Sotheby's catalogues always tell you
whether letters are thought to be originals
written by the hand of the author in question.
The compiler of the catalogue in 1977
was clearly being cautious on this one -
so he added the note "not apparently autograph".
if many of us would buy into that sort of mediaeval view of demonic power -
but let me give you something more down to earth
A few months ago I was asked to go to a house to conduct
of an evil spirit at work in the building. Should I have done it or not??
It is a
common these days to talk about people needing to “confront their demons” -
is that any more than a figure of speech?
The truth is, we may well have differing views and answers.
of you may want to take the Biblical understanding at face value:
The Gospel talk of people being taken over by evil spirits,
and surely here are such cases?
of us may prefer a less literal view -
When the Bible talks of evil spirits, this is seen as a poetic,
mythical way of trying to describe the power of evil
which is inherent in human society
So, was the devil at work in Harold Shipman’s surgery,
or was what happened there the result of individual human choice
interacting with a bizarre cocktail of
genetic make-up and social conditioning??
Wink in his wonderful book “The Powers That Be”
asks the same question about a riot at a football match:
“For a few frenzied minutes, people who in their ordinary
behave on the whole quite decently suddenly find themselves
bludgeoning and even killing opponents
whose only sin was rooting for the other team.
Afterward people often act bewildered and wonder
what could have possessed them.
Was it a ‘riot demon’ that leapt upon them from the sky,
or was it….. caused by the conjunction of an outer permissiveness,
heavy drinking, a violent ethos, a triggering incident,
and the inner violence of the fans?
And when the riot subsides,
does the ‘riot demon’ rocket back to heaven….?”
(Wink, Powers that Be, p. 28)
Maybe we could talk about that a bit over coffee -
Incidentally, I didn’t do an exorcism - or indeed perform
which assumed that the location was literally haunted by supernatural beings.
What I did do was to the house and offer prayers
and ask God’s blessing on the home and the people in it.
Maybe we won’t all agree on this-
But whether we believe in literal or mythical demons,
I want to suggest a number of things on which we can all agree:
(1) we can all agree together on the power of evil in the
and the need to combat it in Christ’s name.
In 2006 they found a volcano below the surface of the Med
just south of Sicily.
It is dormant now - but maybe one day it will come to life…..
never be fooled - even when we look at the smooth waters of life,
we know that evil is always there, waiting its moment.
encounter the demonic in people -
think about the Gospels - there are lots of references to evil spirits -
but always they are in people (in one case only in pigs) -
we don’t read about Jesus and the disciples walking along the road
and meeting a couple of evil spirits coming the other way,
nor do we read about poltergeists upsetting the crockery in Martha’s kitchen
- no, there are lots of evil spirits,
but they appear in and through the dysfunctional & destructive
nature and activity of sick & damaged human beings -
and that is where we need to be at work in Christ’s name.
need to look inside our own lives
as well as those of others to confront our demons -
In July 1691 there was a piece in the papers
about a lady who had come home from Church on Sunday
and looking in the mirror as she entered the house,
saw not her own face but that of the devil.
And to this day sometimes people will say -
"Keeping looking in the mirror like that,
and one day you'll see the devil"
to see devils (literal or symbolic) in our neighbour,
or in the Shipmans and Wests, the Pinochets and Hitlers of this world.
But maybe we should begin by looking closer to home.
and look deep into the mirror of our soul and see what we see.
(4) As we
confront evil and the demonic in society,
in the lives of others, in our own lives,
we are not to despair - recall our texts
(and again whether we read them literally or metaphorically, the force is the same):
Mk 1: 39 "And he went all through Galilee …driving out devils"
Mk 6:7 “he sent them out … & gave them authority over evil spirits.”
This is God’s promise and commission for us.
Martin Luther talks at one point about the apparently irresistible
of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon and Persia, Greece and Rome.
“So,” says Luther “they puff themselves up in their power alone,
and when the bubble is full blown, and everyone supposes them to have won,
then God pricks the bubble and all is gone.”
An evil face painted on a balloon get more and more
as the balloon is blown up -
but there is something inherent in the expanding balloon
that ensures its ultimate destruction.
The great symbol of evil in 1789 was the Bastille -
symbol of the regime which ground the French peasantry in poverty.
Finally with huge courage the mob stormed the Bastille
to find out what they had never know before
as they had cowered beneath the shadows of its great ramparts:
The great edifice was only defended by a handful of veterans
and was ripe for capture.
- even when evil seems frighteningly immovable
from generation to generation,
actually it has within it the seeds of its own destruction,
for the love of Christ is stronger the forces of evil and death
however we understand them.
Gordon Rupp tells of his time in Berlin in 1945 -
“I shall never forget a few weeks
after the end of the war,
walking almost in awe down the shattered ruins of Wilhelmstrasse
past the great German war ministries riven into giant pieces,
to the cathedral of Berlin where the bombs
had penetrated through the dome and down into the crypt -
the very place of the tombs of Prussian Kings
who laid the foundation of German militarism.
And then I walked along to
where hardly one stone was left upon another
and saw there a mother sitting to rest
after standing in the queue for potatoes,
while across the doorstep of Hitler’s Chancellery
a baby lay, sprawled out, kicking and laughing at its mother.
So another mother and another baby
lie across human history
as the Empires rise and fall and the captains and kings
strut their hour and then depart
while God writes history in his own way.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats
and exalted them of low degree”.
(Rupp, Principalities and Powers, Epworth, 1952)
And so to
the evils of our day -
and thank you to Caroline and Philip for your moving words
which we heard at our meeting on Zimbabwe last Wednesday -
and thank you Philip for the words you chose to quote -
words we have heard this morning also -
from Paul’s letter to the Romans -
and so relevant to our the battle with evil in your homeland today -
“For I am sure that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So remember this -
the power of evil seems everywhere -
from the walls of the Bastille
to the jackboots of the Reich
and the face in my mirror -
when the devil seems to have all the cards….
there comes a loving man of Nazareth
walking amidst the ruins of our civilization
saying follow me, and share my work -
and never doubt the final outcome for a moment -
for (understand it how you will)
I have seen Satan fall from Heaven,
and in my name devils shall fear and fly!
Order of Service
10.30 a.m. Service of Holy Communion led by Rev Andrew Sails
Hymn 460 “Come sinners to the Gospel feast”
Prayers (Methodist Worship Book p.174)
Readings: Mark 6:6b-13 (p.1008)
Romans 8:35-39 (p.1135)
Hymn 275 “Thou hidden source of calm repose”
Sermon “Casting out demons”
Hymn 774 “Lord thy church”
Prayers and Lord’s Prayer
Minister: The Peace of the Lord be with you.
also with you.
(We share the handshake of peace)
(Young people join us from their sessions)
Hymn 215 “Amazing Grace”
1. 나같은 죄인 살리신 주 은혜 놀라와 잃었던 생명 찾았고 광명을 얻었네
2. 큰 죄악에서 건지신 주 은혜 고마와 나 처음 믿은 그 시간 귀하고 귀하다
3. 이제껏 내가 산것도 주님의 은혜라 또 나를 장차 본향에 인도해 주시리
4. 거기서 우리 영원히 주님의 은혜로 해처럼 밝게 살면서 주찬양 하리라
Minister: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them to the Lord.
Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Minister: It is indeed
right to give you our thanks and praise,
O God, for you are the One who was, and is, and is to come, and you reign over all from beginning to end.
You created the earth and its inhabitants. When your chosen rulers and their people failed you, you sent your child, Jesus Christ, into the world, the King of Glory and the Prince of Peace. You gave him dominion and victory over all the forces of sin and death, and he rules over all. We rejoice that neither principalities nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor things present nor things to come, nor anything in the whole of creation, will be able to separate from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore we join with angels and archangels and all the hosts of heaven as we sing:
(sing): Holy, holy, holy is
the Lord, holy is the Lord God Almighty!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, holy is the Lord God Almighty!
Who was, and is, and is to come! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!
Minister: On the night
he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, he gave thanks, broke it and gave
it to his disciples saying
“Take, eat, this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup; he gave thanks and gave it to them saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this is my blood of the new Covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
So we obey our Lord’s command: we offer bread and wine, we offer ourselves, to be used for the work of your Kingdom. Send down the spirit of life and power, glory and love, upon these people, upon this bread and wine, that to us they may be his body and his blood.
[The congregation is seated. All are invited to receive bread and wine. Please come forward when the Steward beckons your row. Please move to the first available space at the rail, starting from the centre and moving out. When you have received bread and wine, please return to your seat via the side aisle.]
All: We thank you Lord, that you
have fed us in this sacrament, united us with Christ, and given us a foretaste
of the heavenly banquet prepared for all people. Amen.
Hymn 36 “God is love”