Scripture: Mark 5:1-11
It has been said that if you don’t have a sense of humor, then you don’t have any sense at all. Laughter, according to the wisdom writer in Proverbs 17:22, is good medicine for the soul.
One of my favorite comedians was George Carlin. Carlin was born May 12, 1937, in New York and died June 22, 2008, at the age of 71 in Santa Monica, CA. He was widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of our time. One newspaper called him “the dean of countercultural comedians.” He was second on Comedy Central’s list of 100 greatest stand-up comedians.
While he was a good comedian with great critique of the social, political, and economic realities of his times, perhaps his most memorable comedic routine was performed in 1986 for the HBO special, “Comic Relief.” In his classic routine about the “stuff” in our lives, Carlin said that our houses are only places for our “stuff.”
Carlin made us laugh at our desire to own, collect, and hoard “stuff.” When our houses become too small to house our stuff, Carlin said, we go buy bigger houses, or rent space, to store our “stuff.” An entire business Carlin said has been created just to store our “stuff.”
The man in this text had stuff, but his stuff was no laughing matter. Verse 1 says that when Jesus had come to the country of the Gadarenes immediately after he got off the ship, he was met by a man who had some “stuff.” Verse 2 says that the man had some unclean spirits. He had some stuff in his life that was driving him crazy.
His stuff had him living in a graveyard among the tombs (v.3a). His stuff had often caused him to be bound with chains and fetters (vv.3b-4). His stuff had him crying and cutting himself with stones (v.5).
This appears to have been the sentiment of our nation for the last four years. The stuff of our President, Donald J. Trump, has been driving us crazy. Whenever we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The disinformation and habitual lying about anything – you name it, he lied about it. He is on record having lied more than 20,000 times over the last four years.
His disrespect for the rule of law has been driving us crazy. From welcoming foreign interference with our elections, to using the office of president for personal financial gain, to frivolous lawsuits one after another to advance his political agenda, his disrespect for the rule of law has been driving us crazy.
Not only that, but his deception has been driving us crazy. The things that he knew to be serious, he down played not to be as serious as it was – primarily the COVID-19 virus – has driven us crazy. Holding super spreader events at the White House and rallies in states where the virus is surging with no social distancing or face coverings has been driving us crazy.
In the text, Jesus recognized that this man had some “stuff.” And in Verse 8, Jesus speaks not so much to the man, but He speaks to the unclean spirits in the man. Jesus speaks to the man’s “stuff” – “come out of the man you unclean spirit (v.8).”
Then Jesus named the man’s “stuff.” In Verse 9, Jesus ask the unclean spirits what was their name? In the second part of that verse, the unclean spirits said that their name was Legion for they were many (v.9b).
After naming the man’s “stuff,” Jesus drove the “stuff” out of the man. In Verse 10, the unclean spirits asked Jesus not to send them out of the country. They saw a herd of swine, Verse 11 says, on the mountain and asked Jesus to let them go into the swine. But Verse 12 says that when the man’s “stuff” became the swine’s “stuff,” they violently ran down the mountain into the sea and were choked or drowned in the sea (v.13).
After 18 interviews with President Trump, Bob Woodward drew two conclusions in his book, “Rage.” The first was that Trump had lost his way, not only as president, but also as a human being and the second was that he was not fit for the office of president.
That appears to be the sentiment of the nation with more the 77 million Americans who cast their vote for Joe Biden to be the next President. The nation is casting Donald J. Trump out.
As Jesus did in this text, we must cast out his narcissist “stuff” that has been driving us crazy to a place where it can never affect our national sanity again. We must cast it out to a place where racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and lying are no longer tolerated as normative.
We must cast it out to a place where the rule of law is applicable to everybody and not even the president is above it. We must cast it out to a place where every vote cast is a vote counted and no vote is suppressed. We must cast it out to a place where civility, and truth telling, and facts, and data, and science, and national intelligence are valued and inform national decision-making.
Then will we be found clothed and in our right mind. Then will our ancestors rejoice and be glad knowing that their living was not in vain. Then will the fore parents of our nation shout for joy knowing that we are becoming a perfect union. Then will all heaven rejoice because the soul of our nation has been restored.
Let us once and for all rid ourselves of the “stuff” that has been driving us crazy. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen!