Having used a series of parables to teach His disciples and a large crowd of followers on the nature of The Kingdom of God, Jesus and His disciples head east, across the lake to a region inhabited primarily by Gentiles. Mark reports that it was evening when they departed. It should be noted that this is the Sea of Galilee and they crossed at a point where the lake was about 5 miles wide so it is reasonable to assume it must have been pretty dark when they reached the other side. Now, the place they landed contained many caves that were used as tombs in which bodies were laid. At the best of times it was an eerie place; as night fell it must have been down right spooky.
When Jesus gets out of the boat, a man of incredible strength, a man naked, a man possessed with evil spirits comes out of the tombs, runs toward Jesus pleading with Him for help. Jesus causes the evil spirits to come out of the man and into a herd of pigs that rush into the lake and are drowned. The owners of the pigs and others from the area come and find Jesus with the man dressed and in his right mind. Mark reports that they were afraid and asked Jesus to leave the region. As Jesus prepares to leave, the man begs Jesus to allow him to accompany him. Jesus tells the man to go home and tell others how much mercy he has received.
Here is the good news! This man who was isolated from neighbors, shunned, feared and restrained; shown mercy by Jesus, goes and begins to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. The Decapolis? It’s a region of 10 cities, inhabited by Gentiles. An outreach of significance!
So, how does this text relate to us today? In what ways can we at Faith Lutheran reach out to those in the Decapolis around us? Where will we find the man? Where are the caves and tombs that the man may be living in? What is going on in the life of the man that needs help? How can we bring the love of Jesus to the man? What difference would it make if we did?
On January 26, 2020 the members of Faith Lutheran Church will be asked to consider a missional opportunity of significance for people who are homeless. An opportunity to reach out to people who live in conditions we would consider unacceptable for ourselves. An opportunity to bring these people into community. An opportunity to share hospitality, safety, belonging and break the cycle of isolation and lack of place. An opportunity to grow the community of faith by putting into action a plan to serve the needs of those who are homeless.
To be sure, not all elements of this opportunity are finalized. Upon a favorable congregational vote to endorse the vision of a Sacred Settlement of Tiny Houses, a team of elected Faith members will have the task of sorting through the many development questions that have been and will be raised around this mission. This vote is not a once and done, but it is the beginning of a mission of mercy and hope.
As we continue to discern God’s will around this opportunity, think about Jesus parting words to the man in Mark’s text: Go and tell how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.