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.
It was mid-morning, the volunteers inside the church were preparing to open the Food Bank. In the graveyard outside, Frederick (not his real name), was shouting incoherently. Some of the volunteers were concerned that he would put people off coming into the Food Bank, others were glad that at least he was in a safe place. Frederick is known in the town, he is not a drug user or alcohol dependent he is mentally ill. A member of the Neighbourhood Response Team happened by. Soon she was inside the church saying ‘I can’t do anything with him when he is in this state’. Not long afterwards, three police officers appeared at the door of the church, equally unable to ‘do anything with him’. They could arrest him but they (and we) knew that was not the answer.
The Food Bank operated and was very busy, the rest of the world carried on with their daily business and Frederick continued to shout.
I cannot be the only person who, in such situations as this, pray for Jesus’ wisdom, power and authority to bring peace to a troubled individual.
Compassionate God, there are times when we feel so helpless. We see pain and fear, vulnerability and dependence and we know no way to heal. Give us wisdom and courage and above all faith in your power and authority to act even in life’s darkest places. Amen
Val Morrison is a member of Hall Gate URC, Doncaster, and a former Moderator of General Assembly.