Easter 2017 – 2nd Sunday of Easter
The Man Who Hears Voices: A 21st Century Tale of Jesus in Stillwater
The Man Who Hears Voices: A 21st Century Tale of Jesus in Stillwater
JACOB: One day, a man named Jesus arrived in the town of Stillwater on a fishing boat and landed at the pavilion at the end of Myrtle Street. He made his way up South Hill, walking cheerfully and greeting all he passed.
LILY: At this time there was a man who wandered the town and claimed to hear voices. He was homeless and often slept in Fairview Cemetery. Some people were afraid of him, because he would drink too much and then run around in a heedless frenzy, often bruising himself against trees or the stones in the cemetery. On that fateful day, he encountered Jesus near the graves. Jesus was still calling greetings to everyone and whistling an interesting tune. The Man Who Heard Voices felt the demons within him cringing in fear on recognizing Jesus as the Son of God.
EMILY: Jesus asked the demonic voices within the man who they were. “We are many: alcoholism and addiction and mental illness and self-criticism.” Jesus commanded these demons to leave the man and sent them into a herd of cows out west of town. The cows raced east down the hill to the river and, already near exhaustion, drowned in the St. Croix.
EMILY: Distraught, the farmer headed into town. He and other witnesses encountered one another at Culver’s that Tuesday and told the astonishing story of what had happened.
EMILY: As word spread and the carcasses of the cows were seen floating in the river, many of the towns’ people came to Summer Tuesday to find out what had happened. They witnessed Jesus and the Man Who Heard Voices sitting together near the river. Drawing near, they were amazed to see the man sober, neatly dressed in clean clothing and sitting calmly talking to Jesus.
JOSIE: Dozens of cellphones whipped out of pockets and purses as people rushed to spread the news. Some backed away from the scene, frightened by how powerful Jesus seemed to be. The people of Stillwater posted pictures of the drowned cows on social media and ranted about how this weird Jesus-guy should leave town. Here are some of their posts and texts:
JUNE: Did you see the zombie cows go by? Scary! Good thing I am prepared for the zombie apocalypse.
JACOB: I can’t believe what happened to my cows! I heard a stranger named Jesus was responsible. He needs to go back where ever he came from!
LILY: Here’s a picture of me with Jesus after my healing. I have found the Lord! He saved me! #JesusSaves
JUNE: That new man in town is a disgrace. Who will want to eat at my restaurant with dead cows floating by?
JOSIE: OMG! I just heard that there are scary cows running around! Ahhh! What’s gonna happen?
EMILY: I was just at Summer Tuesdays and the farmer’s cows are drowning!!! Look at this selfie I took with them. The one on the right photobombed me. LOL!
JOSIE: Late in the day as dusk fell, Jesus climbed into his Lund fishing boat, preparing to head to the next town in need of him. The Man Who Heard Voices begged to go with him. Instead, Jesus commanded him to share his story with the whole St. Croix Valley. The man then began to share and give presentations around the valley about how Jesus had changed his life.
Youth Sunday Message: Interpreting the Story
Introduction – LILY
The story about Jesus healing the man possessed by demons may seem hard to relate to our lives today. Yet stories like this can happen. Demons may not be literally driven out into a herd of nearby animals, but healing does happen. Even sometimes in surprising ways.
Defining Demons – JACOB
So what are demons? How do we experience them today? Here is how we answered these questions.
Demons represent something that does not follow in God’s footsteps and acts against God’s will for us. We experience them when we are lost, like when we are confused about life or cannot get on track. They can be metaphorical, such as self-criticism or jealousy. Like Anxiety, fear and anger, they complicate our lives. They disturb our peace of mind. Lack of belief in God or doubts can get in the way of our faith. Grief over deep loss can separate us from God when we believe that God should have intervened.
Sometimes the demons can be things in our life beyond our control, like mental illness or even physical illness. Illnesses like anxiety and depression can be demons that plague us. Addiction and alcoholism also possess people like demons. Sometimes we harm others without even realizing it. We turn against what we think is right. Any of us can be possessed by demons. People are not demons. Their actions, illnesses and sin can possess people like demons.
Describing Healing – EMILY
Healing is experienced many different ways. Healing can go beyond the physical; it can be emotional and spiritual. Some describe it as when you finally feel better. Those who need healing in broken relationships with others or God may say it is when you become a better version of yourself. It can look like restored relationships. It can even be forgetting the anger of a fight with a sibling, neighbor, or best friend, and moving on with life. Whatever the details, it is marked by change in feelings or actions.
Healing comes with God helping us through hard times. It is not necessarily a moment in time but a process. Healing can be a slow struggle of staying on track, taking your medicine, staying focused on God, clinging to hope. Physical therapy, surgery, medication, and rest can all be part of the process. Healing is restoring hope. Sometimes healing is accepting reality and how our lives are. We cannot change everything. Like the man in the story, we certainly cannot do it alone. We need Jesus.
What We Learned – JUNE
From this story, we learned that Jesus can heal. Truly, anyone can be saved. When Jesus sent the demons into the pigs, it showed how powerful he was. Jesus set the man free. We realized that we should try to release our demons so that we don’t have to keep living with them. The story, especially in the actions of the towns’ people, taught us that humans struggle with tolerance, change, belief, and acceptance. Other people can be afraid when they witness change and healing.
The Good News – JOSIE
This story has good news for us today. The man who heard voices is healed as good as new. Healing is possible, both physically and mentally and also spiritually and in relationships. He is restored to his community and gets to have a more normal life, no longer living in a graveyard. This can happen to us too. We too can find wholeness. If we look to God, we may not heal right away, but God can teach us to get better.
Share Your Story – LILY
We must remember that this story does not end with healing. The man who heard voices was healed but then not allowed to go with Jesus. Instead, he was sent forth by Jesus to tell the story. God asks us to share our stories of suffering and healing so that we might help others see tolerance, find faith, and have hope that healing is possible.