The story of “The Gerasene Demoniac” (Luke 8:26-39) is interesting in that every creature involved either directly or indirectly is upset at the close of the account except for the man healed and Jesus. The demons are immediately upset at the presence of Jesus. The pigs are upset to the point of diving off the bank so as to be drowned.  The pig-herdsmen are upset at the loss of product. Even the people of the surrounding country are upset to the point of asking Jesus to leave.

The story seems to be trying to let us know how important it is to be ready for Jesus. Faithful people have for years been wearing their “WWJD?” bracelets in what I hope is an honest attempt to model their actions after the actions of Jesus. What we see in today’s reading is an answer to WWJD? He would change everything and in the process leave many people afraid. Folks are afraid that their livelihoods are going to be affected and that their demons will need to be dealt with. This story reminds us that we need to be prepared when Jesus makes himself present in our lives lest we run him off and we miss our chance to follow him along the way.

Thank You!

“Lord, teach us to pray”  Luke 11:1

Luke share with the reader the setting in which the disciples received “The Lord’s Prayer.” Luke’s account of the events surrounding the giving of this prayer is in response to a request from the disciples, “Teach us to pray…”   The request assumes that prayers are more than just a release of pent up emotions aimed at God in hope of a response. Prayer is a discipline and as such, it is an experience that can be taught and learned.

The first prayers I remember being taught were simple mealtime prayers:

Thank you, God, for milk and bread and other things so good. Amen.


God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.

     As a child, I had some hearing issues that resulted in some speech delays. When it was my turn to pray (or so the story goes) for our evening meals my prayer became unintentionally truncated to the point where the words of my prayer were “Thankin’, thankin’, thankin’.” For years the retelling of this story embarrassed me. I was well into adulthood when I came across some of Meister Eckhart’s writings on prayer. It was the following quote that removed the embarrassment from me for all time, “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

I had parents willing to teach me thankfulness for the gifts I had received. I also had parents that gave me the words to express that thankfulness. In all that we do we should be thankful for the variety and bounty of gifts that we have received. In-person and in prayer we should always remember to say, “Thank you.”

Study questions for Luke 10

Luke 10 – Study for Sunday, August 11

          The expectations of those appointed and sent ahead of Jesus are high. The stakes are even higher for both them and the church in every age. God has revealed to us a particular knowledge of his kingdom. Will we use this God-given knowledge to fortify our own sense of isolation and security or will see it as a calling to go into the world and extend a message of love and grace?

1)      As Jesus sends out the 70 how would you describe the urgency of the message? What clues does the scripture give us?

2)      What is the heart of Jesus’ message (vv.3-9)?

3)      How is Jesus’ message of peace at odds with the message of the world in his day? In our day?

4)      What does Jesus celebrate upon the return of the seventy?

 Read 10: 25-42

5)      The lawyer’s question in verse 29 is answered in verse 36 by Jesus with another question. What does Jesus answer reveal about “And who is my neighbor?”

6)      The story of the “Good Samaritan” points out the barriers to mercy that exist in the world. What are the barriers that exist between our church and the community in which we reside?

7)      How do we allow these barriers to impede us from going into the world?

8)      Why was Martha so upset?

9)      How did Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus break down yet another barrier in society?

How’s business?

Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:1-2). This is the beginning of the church’s ministry. The gathered people sent out in Jesus’ name by his authority. This ritual is played out in the ordination of ministers in The United Methodist church when Bishops tell ordinands, “Take Thou the Authority.” This ritual is continued in the baptism of children and adults. This ritual is evident in the receiving of new members into the church. This ritual is expressed in the offering and receiving of the Lord’s Supper. Each week at the end of worship my words reflect the ritual of sending into the world when I say, “Go now in peace to love and to serve in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

As followers of Jesus, we like the twelve are sent forth to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. The effectiveness of our preaching is in direct correlation to healing. Our proclamation of God’s word is not judged by attendance or style. Our preaching is effective when it brings healing. The question the church needs to ask itself is, “Healing is our business – How’s business?”

Luke Bible Study Chapter 8

Luke Chapter 8

“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages….” Chapter 8 begins by placing Jesus on the move and on tour. Within the narrative of Luke, this acts as an introduction of Jesus to a larger audience. It plays out like a “Get to Know You” Tour for Jesus. Jesus, as presented to us by Luke, is the one that we have prepared for (Luke 1); the one that was presented to us and given in ministry (Luke 2); tested and proven worthy (Luke 4); made “famous” by his miracles and preaching (Luke 4-7).

In Chapter 8 as Jesus is moving from town to town we are given an insight as to the nature of the relationship that Jesus wants with us and that we need to have with him.

8: 1-3     The Twelve and women followers

What is the nature of Jesus relationship with “The Twelve” as compared to his relationship with “some women?”

8: 4-15    The parable of the sower: proclaiming and receiving the Kingdom

Parables are metaphors that call us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of “the kingdom of God”

How are we to relate to God’s word which Jesus is both embodiment and fulfillment of?

In the context of scripture is there such a thing as a “bad seed?”

We call this the parable of “the sower” would it not be better named “parable of the seeds” or “the parable of the soils?”

How are the seeds/soils judged?

8: 16-18 Faithful listening

What is the relationship between listening and light?”

8: 19-21 True family

What defines our relationship with our family?

8: 22-25  The calming of the storm

What is Jesus’ relationship with nature?

How are we to relate to Jesus in the midst of “storms?”

8: 26-39  The Gerasene demoniac: Jesus’ authority over evil

What is Jesus relationship with evil?

How do the demons respond to Jesus?

What does this passage say about how we relate to one another and to Jesus as it relates to the economy?

8: 40-56  the raising of Jairus’ daughter: Jesus’ authority over death

How does our relationship with Jesus change our understanding of life and death?

Luke 8:1-3

       After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

As we read Luke it may be good for us to remember that within the Gospel there is an inherent call to relationship with not only Jesus but one another. The first verses of chapter 8 remind us that there were “The Twelve” and “some women.” The modern reader may find the reference to women as dismissive but in context, this is quite a big deal. Women are a part of Jesus’ ministry and are counted as some of the earliest followers of Jesus. Furthermore, these women were able to support themselves and the ministry “out of their own means.”

In the reading of the parables and healing stories that follow it is important that we look at how these accounts are drawing a community together. Our first instinct may be to ask “Who is in or who is out?” The better question is to ask maybe how can our relationships be strengthened?

Bible Study – Luke Chapter 7

Bible Study – Luke Chapter 7 – For Sunday July 28

 “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” – Luke 7:9

What does this tell us about what Jesus seeks?

Luke 7:6-8

Read the Centurion’s words as a personal prayer…as a corporate prayer…

How does this affirm/challenge our current prayer practices?

What is the reason for the servant’s healing?

Luke 7:11-17
Where is faith found in this account of healing?

What difference should the presence of Jesus make in our lives?

Luke 7:18-50

What is our opinion of royalty?

What is our view of the kingdoms of this world?

Many of us have been keeping us with the royal baby stuff. While we should certainly be glad for the couple that they had, it seems, a healthy baby, it is hard to not to think “Why is this so important?

Frederick Buechner in his “dictionary” entitled Peculiar Treasures approaches the subject in a thoughtful way.

Caesar Augustus-
Caesar was only one of the titles Augustus bore. Others were rex, imperator, princeps, pontifex maximus, and so on. He ruled Rome and thus virtually the whole civilized world. He was worshiped as a god. People burned incense to him. Insofar as he is remembered at all, most people remember him mainly because at some point during his reign, in a rundown section of one of the more obscure imperial provinces, out behind a cheesy motel among cowflops and moldy hay, a child was born to a pair of up- country rubes you could have sold the Brooklyn Bridge to without even trying.”

Jesus changed the world not destined for a throne on which to rule his kingdom.

What does the hoopla surrounding the “Royal Baby” say about our desires as a people for kings and kingdoms?

How does this relate to what we read in Luke 7:18-50 about the expectations of kings and kingdoms of the people of Israel?

Luke 7:29-35

What do we learn from the children’s song?

Luke 7:36-50

What do we learn about Simon/religious leaders in this passage?

Why is the sinful woman forgiven?

What do we learn from this passage about sinfulness and forgiveness?

Hey Jude…

      One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,  Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:12-16

  And any time you feel the pain, hey, Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders – The Beatles

The list of disciples as found in Luke gives us two Judases. It is one of those names that you do not want to saddled with for the rest of your life. This is a name that evokes emotion and disdain. A few years ago I was introducing a parent of a High School friend of mine at a New Year’s Day party and I said, “Adolf this Klaus, Klaus this Adolf.” Upon saying it I realized how weird it was to say the name Adolf in such a personal way. The name as we know has connections that bring with it at least a turn of the head when it is mentioned.

Judas is one of those names we associate with nothing good. This is the disciple associated with betrayal, hopelessness, and despair. But we soon forget that there was another disciple Judas, the Son of James. Far less is discussed about this disciple than the other Judas. And we most often refer to him not by Judas but as Jude to make a clear distinction between the two. Most folks I believe would not feel nearly as comfortable taking their terminally ill child to St. Judas’ Hospital.

There is a point in Luke’s list as he couple the two Judases. It is a story that the church has taken up by the giving of a new name and identifying attributes that stand as a diametrically opposed to the better knowledge of the Judases. It is St. Jude who is remembered as the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes. We would all do well to remember that it is not in our name that we are judged but by our actions that we will be not only be judged but remembered.

Follow Me

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:27-28)

Each time I read the passages of scripture where Jesus calls disciples I am taken aback at just how abruptly the Gospel writers deal with each instance. Today we read of Levi who was called with the simple words “Follow Me.” His response is not in words but actions. He leaves everything, rises, and follows Jesus.  Our claims as followers of Jesus are more often met with our words. We like to tell how much we love Jesus and how much he has changed our lives. Today’s scripture lesson reminds us that “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak more loudly than words.” If we are to truly follow Jesus it is time we left that which is holding us back and follow Jesus.

Study Guide – Luke 5

Study Guide – Luke 5

We live in an age where everything will soon be old. Whether it is the latest computer or television or style of music or medication, we know that the process of research and development is going on and on. And with that is an army of people who want to let you know about everything that’s new in hopes that you will buy.

But in the world of Jesus and his followers, the novelty was deeply threatening, especially when people built their lives around the old way. Don’t expect people who given ten years to the old ways to be happy about switching allegiance. They want to stay with what they know. Think how those who provided horses or stagecoaches for travel reacted when trains and the cars arrived. Jesus claims to be bringing a new kingdom-program on the scene, and in Luke 5 we find a variety of ways in which he gives evidence of that. But not everyone is happy with what they see.

Why does the huge catch of fish cause Peter to react the way he does in verses 5-11?

What is so significant about how Jesus heals the leper?

What do we learn about Jesus’ priorities as we read 5:15-16?

Read 5:17-39

The Pharisees were a pressure group, not an official body. This is the first time Luke has introduced us to them. The Pharisees’ agenda was to intensify observance of the Jewish law. That, they believed, would create conditions for God to act, as he had promised, to judge the pagans who were oppressing Israel and to liberate his people.

Why would the Pharisees care enough to check out Jesus?

After the friends lowered the paralyzed man through the roof, why were Pharisees troubled and upset?

Upon seeing the faith of the friends, Jesus forgave and then healed the paralyzed man. How does Jesus connect faith and the power of God?

According to vv 31-32 what is Jesus’ mission statement?  How are we fulfilling the mission today?

Luke 5:34 describes a party. How do the sayings in 5:36-39 inform the party that is the Kingdom of God.?

The challenge of Luke 5 is to see where people are living as though the old age was still the norm, as though the new life of the gospel had never burst upon us.

Where in your life do we/you still live as if the old age was in effect?

What would it look like for you/us to live in the promise of the new kingdom?