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2 Pentecost - Luke 8:26-39

Today we do something dangerous and expensive.

We pray for healing.

What if it works?

Healing always comes with a price.

When I was in seminary and broke my hand in five places, I did not go to the doctor until a

classmate finally begged me to go.

We seminarians had terrible insurance and I knew that medical care would bury me deeper in debt, so I resisted and tried to tough it out, as so many people do.

The price tag on health was too steep to risk becoming well.

I pray for a family that used to attend Shepherd's grade school.

The mother has been in contact with me as her son continues to fall behind in school,

convinced that his experience at Shepherd is to blame.

The summer program she believes he needs is $26,000; healing always comes with a price.

I have listened to her at some length and tried to help her forgive and move forward, but

her mind is made up that Shepherd is evil and only cares about money; my approach has

not aligned with her certainty about this.

It feels to me like she wants Shepherd to be the scapegoat for her son's struggles.

It feels to her like her son was scapegoated and demonized in his class here, causing him

permanent developmental damage.

And I remember the wise voice of my father saying, "There are always at least three sides to

every story—my side, your side, and the truth."

She is unwilling to engage the possibility of receiving love and support from our community.

We are unwilling to pay $26,000 to finance one child's summer program.

In both cases, the price tag on health is too steep to seek wellness.

This is why the Gerasenes begged Jesus to leave.

He had the authority and the audacity to heal the man quarantined to the graveyard.

His shackles and guards created jobs and kept him safely out of the neighborhood, living his

eyesore existence not in my backyard.

The demons who terrorized him called themselves Legion, just like the occupying Roman army, so he was a walking, breathing picture of the daily truth that no one wanted to face.

He was controlled not by social expectations and behavioral norms but by a deeper and darker and stronger power, so he had to be kept away from the children.

Like all dysfunctional systems, the town eventually achieved an equilibrium, scapegoating and banishing him to the dead when the living couldn't handle him.

But Jesus disrupted that careful balance by healing him, and healing is always expensive.

The local bacon industry saw its profits plummet and their business go underwater.

The farm bureau raced to the chamber of commerce to file a complaint, and suddenly everyone is in the cemetery outside of town facing the man they have scapegoated and shackled all these years, clothed and sane, sitting next to a kosher foreigner who is stronger than the imperial battalion of demons.

And they were afraid.