Old Testament: I Kings (19:1-16)
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place
The Response: Canticle 16
“The Song of Zechariah”
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
The Gospel: Luke (8:26-39)
[Jesus and his disciples] 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.
by the Rev. Deacon George Snyder
John Donne was an English poet and priest who lived about 1600. One of his poems has been stuck in my head for the last week; I have connected it with my thoughts concerning the murder of 49 people in Orlando, Florida. The poem is entitled “No Man Is an Island.” Donne says,
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
He tells us that all of mankind is interconnected.
Donne’s poem was taken and reworked into the lyrics of a song that was popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This rewrite of Donne’s poem by Peter Schickele tells us
Each man’s joy is joy to me,
Each man’s grief is my own.
Mankind is so interconnected that we share with everyone else the high spots and the low parts of their lives. This interconnectedness binds us to one another. So often in life, we feel so alone; but, the fact is we are never alone. We never have to go through life’s uncertainty by ourselves. This connectedness is a gift from our heavenly father.
Many Americans along with countless people around the globe felt the grief of the families of those 49 people killed in that gay club last Sunday morning. “Each man’s grief is my own” was made real for us by the murdering of part of our family. There has been an outpouring of grief and disbelief, intensified because of our being connected.
Since we are in the middle of a presidential election, we heard a lot of talk about their opinion of how this tragedy should be affecting us Americans. He have heard for months that America should close its borders to any Muslim and even suggested we should be sending a mass of Americans—some of whom are citizens—back. The suggestion also arose that we should be leery of every single Muslim who lives in this country. These ideas are all generated by hate. I found these comments to be in total apposition to what the Bible teaches us. If we are Christians, we must not let hate control us; Christ Jesus call us to love one another, instead. Our religion rather than spewing hate, calls us to respond with love.
If we respond in hate, our mind and our actions will be controlled by that hate. If our hearts and our minds are filled with hate, where will the love that God gives us have go? Either hate or love can fill us. There is not room for both. We would be forcing the love of God out of our being if we choose to respond with hatred. I don’t even want to contemplate what this world would be like if we remove God’s love.
I will end my sermon with a prayer, and some of you may disagree with what I say. If that happens, come and talk with me at the end of the service. In the prayer I will pray for those who died, for their family, and for the first responders. Then, I will ask you to pray for the murderer and his family. There is no way that the actions of this one man can be condoned. However, we must not forget that he is also a child of God. Is the death of Christ Jesus on that cross at Calvary only for the benefit of those of us who have tried to live by his commandment? Even though we try to follow the teaching of Jesus, I suspect that most of us feel that we have totally gone astray at one time or another. Jesus’s death which assured us of salvation does not call the perfect man or woman to follow him, and besides we don’t know a perfect person. Even though we have failed Christ, even though we have push him aside for the world of things now and then, he still calls us to become one of his saints in light, to live for all eternity with him. Would Christ do less than that for the murderer? Jesus came to give salvation to the world—not to just some of us. The Jesus that I love wouldn’t do that; his love, his salvation is for all of us
Let us pray.
Heavenly father, we come to you filled with pain and anguish for the innocent people who died in Orlando, and the innocent ones who have been killed at other times. We give you thanks that your love comes to all of us even if we are not deserving. We pray that those who died in Orlando are now with you. Fill the hearts of their families with the peace that only you can give. We pray for the family of the man who killed these innocent men and women; his family is hurting by his actions. May they also feel your peace, and may they not be fill with self-incrimination because of the actions of the killer. We pray that Omar be filled with the knowledge that even he is worthy of your salvation. Remove all hate from our hearts so that we have space for all the love that you bestow upon us. Amen.