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Jesus Casts Out an Unclean Spirit, Luke 4:31-37

Jesus has started to make a name for himself by speaking with authority. In this story, his authority commands demons. His voice has power. His words heal.

There is a favorite family story my dad shares every chance he gets. His recollection of the story is a bit different from mine, though. In my memory, the story goes like this: Shortly after I got my first job at age 16, a member of our church who owned a local pizza shop offered me a job at his shop. Having just started my job, I was reluctant to make a switch. (And I didn’t want to work in pizza.) I told him something like, “Uh, thanks. I just got a job. But thanks anyway.” Here's my dad’s version of the story. “My daughter said to him, ‘I don’t want a stupid job at your stinking pizza place!’”

The event itself didn’t have as much impact on me as did my dad’s retelling of the story. My dad, God bless him, enhances his stories with each telling. So from the age of 16 to my middle 30’s, the story grew in intensity and disdain. And from it, I learned some very important things. First, I learned not to speak my truth because it’s not ok to offend people. Second, I learned to kowtow to people in positions of authority. Neither of those lessons have been healthy for me.

Now, with my years of experience, I have re-learned that it is ok to disagree, and more importantly, it is ok to voice my disagreement. In fact, it’s not only ok, it’s necessary. Being a pastor I couldn’t always speak my truth because I had to represent the congregation. Being a woman I couldn’t always speak my truth because I had been taught to defer my opinion to men. Being a suburbanite I couldn’t always speak my truth because there were other moms I needed to impress (so my kids would be allowed to play with them). There’s always a reason not to speak my truth. But it so critically important that I do! Not to do so deprives me of my voice, and deprives others of the opportunity to learn and grow through respectful conversation. So speak out, women and men! Speak out, kids! Speak your truth with authority and respect.

Text:

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.