Sunday, March 15, 2009


When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. . . . When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" . . .

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. . . .

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (Mark 5:2-3, 6-8, 15, 18-20).

I have often considered the last part of this story to be no more than an epilogue—a small glimpse into the aftermath of a mighty miracle. But the last time I read this narrative, I was struck by the significance of this exchange between the healed demoniac and Jesus. The newly-delivered man, full of gratitude and love did not want to be separated so soon from Jesus. He wanted to join the group of disciples who traveled with him. Instead, Jesus sent him on an important mission to his home town. My heart sank with empathy at the thought of his disappointment. Then I realized: this is an example of the fact that heaven’s agenda often messes with earth’s. And my heart was awed by the honor of being chosen for heaven’s. The healed demoniac was not being held off at arm’s length by Jesus. He was being invited into the fellowship of doing the will of the Father.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The luck of the Irish

Where did this expression come from, anyway? As I review my limited knowledge of the history of the Irish people, I don’t see a lot of luck—not good luck, that is.

Take the Potato Famine of the mid-1800’s in which 20% to 25% of the population of Ireland either starved or emigrated. Oh . . . but that was back in the old country. Perhaps those who immigrated to America met with better fortune? No, not at all. They were rejected, exploited, and ridiculed. They lived in extreme poverty, endured back-breaking labor, and accepted employment that was only considered suitable for servants and slaves. Some luck!

But they persisted in pursuing a better life. They banded together to protect themselves and teach their tormentors a lesson. They worked hard at becoming Americans. And they succeeded! Next to Washington and Lincoln in the hearts of our people stands the memory of our first Irish American president, John F. Kennedy. Was that the “luck of the Irish”? I think not. It was determination, spunk, and hard work that won the Irish a place in this country.

And not just a place, but an honored place. The St. Patrick’s Day parades that they held to declare—to themselves, if no one else—that they were proud to be Irish, caught on. It illustrates the concept “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Are the Irish lucky? I’d call them plucky. On the 17th of this month, how about celebrating the PLUCK OF THE IRISH?

Plucky: having or displaying courage and
spirited resourcefulness in trying circumstances.