Ancient Fears and Modern Man

by Fr. Ian Page

Text: Luke 8:26-39

Date delivered: 22nd Sunday after Pentecost (24/10/2010)

Location: Parish of St. Peter & St. Paul, Clapham, London

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I must confess that I met the idea of preaching upon today’s Gospel with a certain degree of trepidation.
For several reasons, we modern people find ourselves particularly disconcerted by accounts of demonic possession and exorcism.

First of all, in recent times there have been disturbing accounts of so called exorcisms which have been nothing other than mechanisms of manipulation, bullying and downright abuse.

Secondly, the mass media has produced a whole genre of entertainments which seems to consistently glamorise supernatural evil whilst depicting all that is good and wholesome as being rather boring and dull.

There is, however, a third: – and I believe a more profound reason for the unease which I (and I suspect you) feel.

Like it or not, we are all modern people: – that is to say people of the post-enlightenment era: – and as such we live with, an often unspoken assumption that everything is perfectly rational. In other words that it should always be possible, at least in principle, to explain things, to predict events and, in the light of all of this, to remain in control of our lives.

Today’s gospel confronts us with the irrational in a dark and menacing form. The daemons’ clear understanding and confession that Jesus is the Son of God prevents us from conveniently dismissing the episode in the modern categories of mental illness.  We are, rather, confronted by the uncomfortable truth that, what we perceive to be the terra firma of rationality, may in reality be a thin crust overlying the unknown and perhaps the unknowable.

It is disturbing because it means that that the security that we all work so hard to achieve in this life is, in fact, a delusion.  A change in the law: – and a pension fund is raided: – A few months of hyperinflation: – and a lifetimes savings can buy a bag of cherries. A stroke: – and years of formal education can be erased.

A loss of temper and a cherished relationship can be shattered.

The world encourages us at every turn to be ‘self reliant’.

Yet, if we rely upon ourselves, we become more vulnerable than we can possibly imagine.

When we acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the Lord of all Creation: – it is, perhaps all too easy for us to limit the scope of ‘Creation’ to what is familiar to us.

Even if we include the most distant stars and galaxies together with the most minute particles of matter: – we still limit our understanding to those things which are accessible to our minds.

In today’s gospel Jesus demonstrates His Lordship over both the visible and the invisible:-
His Lordship over both the knowable and the irrational.

In doing so He reveals Himself to be the only ground for our well being, our safety, indeed our salvation.
After hearing how the Lord had delivered the man from the legion of daemons:- The locals were frightened and wanted Jesus to go away.

Why?

They obviously weren’t frightened because the daemons were gone.

Perhaps, they weren’t so dissimilar to us moderns after all!

Perhaps, in this mighty act of the Lord, they had caught a glimpse of the true bedrock of reality and saw that it was not the basis upon which they had chosen to build their lives:-  Disconcerting indeed!
May Christ our God:- the Lord and creator of all things, both seen and unseen, be to us the sure foundation.

Amen

Seminarians: Act Now On Opportunities For You

Orthodox seminarians – don’t delay. There are several opportunities for you which you will not want to miss.

Sermon of the Month – students enrolled in an Orthodox seminary in North America are all eligible, and encouraged, to enter. Mark your career early as an effectual preacher of the Gospel. Your sermons will be evaluated by preachers, priests and professors, and you may find yourself the recipient of the Preachers Institute Sermon of the Month award, and maybe, the Seminarian Preacher of the Year.

Festival of Young Preachers– As a National Partner with the Academy of Preachers, Preachers Institute will be taking several young preachers to the festival. As a seminarian, you will have the opportunity to interact with young preachers from all over the country, including many Orthodox young preachers.  It is a fun three days in January this year, and we want a strong Orthodox presence with all students who want to grow in their preaching. Join us at the Festival of Young Preachers and learn more about good preaching in 3 days than you will in 3 months.

(Note: We have several folks asking if only seminarians may attend – any layman, seminarian, deacon or priest, ages 16-28, may participate in the Festival of Young Preachers, and are encouraged to contact the Preachers Institute before registering).

For either opportunity, you can take the same action.

Contact Fr. John A. Peck, director of the Preachers Institute using our handy Contact form.

Sermon of the Month begins Nov. 2010

Submissions are now being accepted for November’s

Sermon of the Month.

Here at the Preachers Institute, we are committed to expanding the opportunities for you, the Orthodox Christian preacher, to expand your repertoire, advance your homiletics education, and hone your preaching skills.

Therefore, in line with those goals, beginning the month of November, the Preachers Institute will be publishing a Sermon Of The Month.

Featured from among the many sermons we receive by email, the Preachers Institute Sermon Of The Month will take the best we receive for that calendar month, and publish, with notes from our editors and contributors why it was chosen.

The monthly winners will be published each month on Preachers Institute, and will remain on the front page until the following month.

You are encouraged to submit each sermon you write and preach.

Here are the guidelines for submission.

There is no charge for entry, so submit early and often.

There are three categories – seminarian, deacon, and priest.

Sermons by bishops will be included in the priest category.

  • Anyone may submit a sermon (provided they give the preacher proper credit);
  • Every sermon must be submitted in electronic format –  .doc files preferred (.doc, .docx, .pdf, .pub, .txt are all acceptable);
  • Include the Biblical text which you are preaching from, Chapter and verse;
  • Include the day, date and location the sermon was delivered;
  • Laymen are encouraged to submit the sermons delivered in their own parish, or in a parish they have visited and personally heard;
  • Sermons by seminarians must be submitted with the approval/signature/initials of the president, dean, or homiletics professor of the seminary. (this can be submitted by email)
  • Every sermon must have been delivered verbally to a congregation, class, or an otherwise live audience. No exceptions.

Remember, the Preachers Institute exists to further the development, education and skill of Orthodox Christian preachers.

You can submit your sermon through our handy-dandy Contact form, or by emailing them to

sermons (at) preachersinstitute.com.