Who is This?

Today’s reading is Mark 5:1-20Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Gaby.

Last week, I went to Tyntesfield for the day. It was a stunning autumn day with warm sunshine and bright skies. Despite the glorious weather, it felt like quite an effort to get there despite it only being 20 minutes away. I kept thinking I wouldn’t be going or I should pull out or I should stay at home and, and have a prayer day at home, but with a small amount of effort and exertion. I managed to get myself there. The minute I got there, I knew I’d made the right decision. Just being in that beautiful space was very restorative to me. There are lots of beautiful places in the city I could have gone and I feel we are very blessed to have them.

If you’ve never been there, Tyntesfield is set in beautiful countryside East of Bristol. It has a farm-like feel but then some beautiful and varied gardens and lovely views with trees and shrubs.

But the interesting thing is, every time I sat down and looked at these beautiful views something happened. See this view here for example. This is a Kodak moment as they would say in the old days or in our days now we would say that’s an Instagram moment. When I took this picture there was a loud drilling noise. I found out later, it was people cutting metal fencing to make it deer proof, so that the deer won’t get into the Rose Garden.

I like kind of liken it to my brain a little bit, because sometimes things seem perfect on the outside. On the inside, it doesn’t look so good. On the outside, it might look like I’ve got everything sorted and my life is perfect. It all looks good, but there’s always that niggle behind this niggle that’s inside our brain. The niggle that is our personality, our push, our motivations, pushing us on to something different, pushing us in another direction. For some of this us, this is a negative voice that’s telling us that we’re not loved or we’re useless or we’re not good enough. For others of us it’s a push to do more, a desire to go further, run faster, jump higher, all the time. For some of us, it’s something that controls our life perhaps an addiction, or, or just a fear, or a worry, perhaps we constantly worry about money, or we constantly worry about our health, or the health of our family, perhaps we constantly worry about safety. There’re all sorts of things that might compromise the beauty that’s going on outside of us because of the inside of us.

Today’s reading is about Jesus sending out demons… we often think that that’s no longer relevant. We might think those kinds of things don’t exist anymore. I’ve not seen a demon. We perhaps think that maybe it happens in somewhere else far away but not here. But perhaps demons are closer than we think. Perhaps they come a little more subtly in this culture, perhaps they don’t look like the face of evil. Perhaps they route themselves in our habits, or the way that we live our lives, or the choices that we make.

Today I’m going to talk about demons as being more patterns that we’ve let get rooted into our lives and things that we’ve allow to control us and our actions. Perhaps things that we’ve chosen ourselves to, to control us. In some cases, we see things like alcohol or drugs, but those are fairly obvious. You know, people call it the demon drink. And I think we do let these things, control us at some times, and for some of us that it’s a big problem and we’re getting help for it. For some of us it’s a problem, and we’re not getting help for it. If that is a problem for you please come and speak to me or one of the clergy team. We want to help you but the problem is with these demons no one may know about it.

But there are other demons too, in our lives. There are other things that take root and take control. Something for me I think that is a real problem is being over busy and over exerting myself, trying to fit too much into one lifetime trying to always do everything that I’ve been asked to do or invited to do, trying to take the best of every opportunity because of YOLO. It’s the belief that you only live once. So, we need to take everything that we can out of this life. It’s also expressed in other things like the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. The idea of missing out is really important in our culture, nobody wants to miss out on the good experience on the fun times, but actually where are all these things leading us. Where does it leave us?

I’m not sure that it leads us anywhere. When I look at my life, objectively, I look at the blessings that I have. I look at the four children, and the husband and the home that I live in, I feel very blessed. But actually, if you look at my life, sometimes it’s more like a prison than it is a fun. Do I enjoy every day of my life? Does it matter? Perhaps I don’t have to. But when I think about my week. Do I think about it in a stressed way do I think, oh my goodness, I’ve got so much to do? Or do I think, Gosh, I’m so grateful that God has placed me where I am with the people that are surrounding me. I think perhaps I don’t. I think perhaps I look at the things that are controlling me, and I worry about them.

My life shouldn’t be a to do list. There’s more to my life than that. And sometimes, am I so busy doing all the things that I think I should do that I forget to ask God, about the things that he wants me to do. From experience the things that God wants me to do are the things that give me life and joy and peace and love. But I’m missing out on all of those good things often because I’m doing other things, dashing around taking children to clubs that they might not want to go to. I’m encouraging my children to do things that maybe it’s not right for them to do. Am I enabling addicts, pushing the children into similar type of lifestyles that that I lead, but one that is not necessarily bringing me happiness or satisfaction, and certainly not joy to myself?

What is it that is going on. What is the demon that is controlling me? How do I name it? How, how does it control me. And how do I put a stop to it. These are all some of the things that I’ve been thinking about… like the beautiful landscape with the drilling in the background… sure, it looks good on Insta but is it real…

The man with an impure spirit or demon possessed as other translations say couldn’t be held down… in a lesser way some of us are like that… never able to rest because we always have to do the next thing…he also had what we would call an extreme mental health problem and was self-harming with stones. How many young people in our city our area even our church are doing this as a way of dealing with their own hurt and pain. A lot… we may not know that the people we love are doing this but they may be doing it.

So, what do we do with these demons… how do we get rid of them? The problem often is that we may cast them out but then we invite them back in again. The first step is recognising we have a problem and telling someone else. One of my children when potty training once wet themselves and I said “Why didn’t you tell someone” “I did, I told Emma.” Emma being one of their little friends. We mustn’t tell Emma, we need to tell someone that will help us get help.

Prayer is a great first step. Admit what it is you need help with. Ask God to come into the situation and help you, tell the devil that you are a child of God and he has no dominion over you and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you. The next step is lifestyle, you need help to handle the issue in your life, you can trust that God wants you to be free from this but if you keep going back to it you won’t be free. What steps can you put in place to help you stay away from temptation.

I’ll give you an example. I have been too busy. For me I need to think through the shape of the week. Have we all got good quality rest and downtime… what activities do I need to stop the children from doing, what activities do I need to stop myself from doing, when can I book myself a prayer day so I can reflect again, (November 10th!). How am I going to get more sleep, more fun? I need to take a day back when I work on Saturdays. If I say I am a Christian how does my worship life look? Am I taking time to pray, read my bible and worship with others? Am I letting God in? Am I part of the church community or am I simply a consumer? Please do get in touch if you would like someone to talk through and pray with you about this.

Let’s pray.

Holy Spirit we welcome you into the pictures of our lives. We welcome you into the annoying noise that wrecks the picture. Please Lord can you get rid of that noise in our lives, please help us to have peace in our heads, our homes and families. Please help us with the demons we face, give us strength and courage to face them and ask them to leave. Give us support as we try to walk away from the things that bring us down and make healthy choices with how we live our lives. And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

There will be a video version of the service.

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