As part of the Detroit Annual Conference Eric Kieb, Jeff Nelson, Jeremy Peters and I were asked to write a group piece based on Mark 5 - the story of Jesus encountering the Gerasene demoniac. Here's what we came up with...
The waves were pounding
While the wind was hounding
And darkness surrounding
On a mission - confounding
The boat sides were creakin’
The water was seepin’
The fishermen were weepin’
And Jesus was sleepin’
Jesus was sleeping?
Then who has been keeping
An eye on this trip,
Crossing over the sea, crossing over the border
Facing the chaos, facing disorder
Can’t we go back just like every other
Group that has ever tried to cross before
No hope is ahead,
nothing in store
But more wind and more rain and more terrible storm
It’s easier to complain and conform
Stills the rain
Stills the wind
Stills the pain
Calls the rabbi, calls the Nazarene
After 50 long years they say this boat’s a sinkin’
Some chalk it up to cynical thinkin’
50 long years of desperation, decline
“What’s all the fuss, aren’t we just fine?”
“Peace” he calls out
After a year of baptisms and weddings
and attempted beheadings
from bridezillas who stalk and they squalk
as they threaten to outline our bodies in chalk
if the dog can’t be the one to bring down the rings
and if her little sister isn’t allowed to sing
“The first time ever I saw your face...”
After mission trips and bring-a-dish dinners
"Green-bean casserole - now there’s a winner”
And vain attempts to reach and to preach,
invite and incite, proclaim and teach
After all of the fighting’s without and the fears within
I’m not even sure where to begin
He calls out
After ten days of Tampa high-drama
It's not a period, we’ll call it a comma.
Unsettling storms seem to dampen the Spirit
Of unity and pride, but we cannot hide
The disciples they arrived on the other side of the sea,
And here today we gather both lay and clergy
At Adrian College or in the country of the Gerasenes
We come seeking Jesus always ready to seek the lost and unclean
And just as Jesus stepped out of the boat
A man came up not wearing a coat
Disheveled, delusional and demon possessed
Coming to Jesus beating his breast
Stuck outside living among the tombs
No hope no cure, everyone presumes
Today they like to say that our church is dead
Easier to blame than fix problems instead
Fighting constraints, restraints,
Chained down with no one to hear his complaints
Locked up with lanyards and empty platitudes
A landslide of legislation and bad attitudes
Robbed by Roberts and his Rules of Order
Stuck in the past like some kind of hoarder
“You’re out of order!”
“No you’re out of order!”
"This whole place is out of order!”
Shattering shackles, breaking the chains,
Is there’s no balm in Gilead to heal this man’s pain?
Should we skip the plenary to go see the Avengers?
No, the Hulk is right here, among the Amen-ers
A chain-snapping giant with incredible hope
That’ll make us feel like inevitable dopes
When they tie us down with inflexible rope
Wondering why we just keep trying to cope
“Wouldn’t it be easier to become Presbyterian”
“I’m finding a place with an infallible pope!”
Living night and day in the cemetery
Dawson Auditorium and Shipman Library
Howling and growling, bruising himself with stones
Marginalized madman left all alone
And his fist said to face I don’t need you
And arm said to chest, I think we are through
And his feet they said to his padded posterior
In this body, I am superior
And he deployed the Discipline, like a back-alley razor
Cut himself to pieces like black eye-lined teenager
Running to Jesus he got on his knees,
Listen to me Jesus, listen to me please
Don’t you torment me, don’t make me leave.
He bowed before the cross,
she put her hand in the air
They broke bread with Bishop,
sang hymns with flair
Praying so hard with all of their heart
“Lord, please go away...” don’t mess up our part
We’ve become accustomed to our messes
Our routines and our tombs
Our beautiful colored glass
And Sunday costumes
Leave us to sit in our comfortable pew
We’ll just sit and complain how “the workers are few...”
When Jesus asks,
“What is your name?”
Are we so honest that we proclaim:
My name is anger, resentment and hypocrisy.
My name is faction and fear. My name is pulpit envy.
My name is naked ambition, pride mixed with doubt.
My name’s in incomprehensible acronym, the meaning we’ve forgotten about.”
My name is bumper sticker theology,
my name is Pharisee,
My name is intolerance and ignorance,
and ‘Hey! Look at me!’”
"My name is Legion; for we are many.”
They begged him earnestly not to send them away
Please not to Marquette, that’s all I can say.
Don’t send us a pastor too young or old
Not sure we’re quite ready for a woman or theology too bold.
Don’t send me to the dirty
the drop outs and delinquents.
Don’t send me to the queers
to the ones baptized with tears
to those assaulted by fears.
Don’t send me to the
I don’t wanna be reminded
that there’s little that separates me
Lord, heal our church.
Cast out our demons.
Imagine a church united
Imagine a people clothed in mercy.
Imagine a crew willing to engage broken people in broken places.
Imagine setting sail through torrents and storms.
Imagine getting out of the boat and getting the world right
The gates of Hell themselves would tremble at the sight.
After the storm
On the other side
demons are defeated.
Lives are changed
Grace happens... even in graveyards...
especially in graveyards.
Get out of the boat
Cast out the demons
The world is our parish.
Michigan is our mission.