Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Who Is the 'I'?

CALL TO PRAYER
Repeat and or meditate on this verse until your thoughts are centered on God.
He does the raging storm appease,
and makes the billows calm and still;
with joy we see their fury cease,
and our intended course fulfill.
O then that all the earth with me
would God for this his goodness praise,
 and for the mighty works which he
throughout the wondering world displays!
 —Psalm 107:29-31
Suggested tune: Sweet Hour (LMD)


SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY
Then they 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.
—Luke 8:26-33

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
How striking is Christ’s unmoved calm in the face of all this fury! He is always laconic in dealing with demoniacs; and, no doubt, his tranquil presence helped to calm the man, however it excited the demon. The distinct intention of the question, ‘What is your name?’ is to rouse the man’s self-consciousness, and make him feel his separate existence, apart from the alien tyranny which had just been using his voice and usurping his personality. He had said ‘I’ and ‘me.’ Christ meets him with, Who is the ‘I’? and the very effort to answer would facilitate the deliverance. But for the moment the foreign influence is still too strong, and the answer, than which there is nothing more weird and awful in the whole range of literature, comes: ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ Note the momentary gleam of the true self in the first word or two, fading away into the old confusion. He begins with ‘my,’ but he drops back to ‘we.’ Note the pathetic force of the name. This poor wretch had seen the solid mass of the Roman legion, the instrument by which foreign tyrants crushed the nations. He felt himself oppressed and conquered by their multitudinous array. The voice of the ‘legion’ has a kind of cruel ring of triumph, as if spoken as much to terrify the victim as to answer the question.

Again the man’s voice speaks, beseeching the direct opposite of what he really would have desired. He was not so much in love with his dreadful tenants as to pray against their expulsion, but their fell power coërces his lips, and he asks for what would be his ruin. That prayer, clean contrary to the man’s only hope, is surely the climax of the horror. In a less degree, we also too often deprecate the stroke which delivers, and would fain keep the legion of evils which riot within.
 —Alexander Maclaren

TODAY'S PRAYER
Heavenly Father: Let thy victory be apparent to my consciousness, and displayed in my life. Help me to be always devoted, confident, obedient, resigned, childlike in my trust of thee, to love thee with soul, body, mind, strength, to love my neighbor as myself, to be saved from temper, hard thoughts, slanderous words, meanness, unkind manners, to master my  tongue and keep the door of my lips. Fill me with grace daily, that my life be a fountain of sweet water...
 —The Valley of Vision

YOUR OWN PRAYERS
Allow the above to help guide your own confession, praise, thanksgiving, and/or petition.

THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
 —Matthew 6:9-13

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