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Evil disturbs us. Some of the hardest parts of the gospels to understand in our generation are the miracles of deliverance. We rejoice that Jesus restores those whose lives are distorted in ways we cannot understand. But we are perplexed at the diagnosis of conditions we might now describe differently.

Mark 5.1–20

5 They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

The Church is called to take evil seriously. The baptism service still contains a prayer of deliverance at the signing of the cross: ‘May almighty God deliver you from the powers of darkness…and lead you in the light and obedience of Christ.’

The prayer reflects the truth that there is a deep spiritual dimension to our lives. Evil can affect us in ways we do not realize or understand, but no situation is beyond the reach of the power and the love of Christ. Part of our calling is to bear witness to how much Jesus has done for us.

How will you bear witness this week to your family and friends and neighbours to what Jesus has done for you?

By your agony and trial;
by your cross and passion;
and by your precious death and burial;
good Lord, deliver us.


From the Litany

Sometimes when people are ill, there is something wrong with body. Sometimes there is something wrong with their mind. Think about the hospitals near you. Do they help people with their bodies or their minds? Pray for the people who are ill, and the doctors and nurses who are caring for them.
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Reflections from the Church House Publishing Pilgrim Journeys: 40 Days of Reflections on The Lord's Prayer written by Steven Croft are copyright 2019, 2020 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission. Full details of both resources are available on the Church of England website.

Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
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