The Prophet John is the link or the bridge between the Old and New Testaments and he is spoken of in all the gospels. He is fore-runner of Jesus and his main prophecy during his brief time of ministry was the announcing of the coming of Jesus – Repent, the Messiah is coming. It is St. John, our patron saint, who Jesus described as ‘the greatest prophet that ever lived’. As his children here in the vineyard, we take on the spirit of John the Baptist, as we live out our ministry here. With all this backdrop, and as we turn for home and prepare for the landing, let us look at the details of the painting a little closer before unbuckling our seat belts. Here we see the prophet Elijah who himself had commanded armies and performed great miracles under the power of God, we see him now wrapped in fear of a woman who sent a threat and he decided to run away to an opposite place. Life can throw so many different darts at us. And if we are not careful we make rash decisions and run away. But please stay the course and listen to the one who calls us to come to him. But life is not always as beautiful and as rosy my friends. It might appear so, but the true proclamation is that it is God who takes us through the mess of life and make something beautiful out of us. We see the disciples who are still shaking and shivering from the storm, now confronted with thousands of demons in this man’s life and in a place where they raise pigs, for goodness sake! We see also our patron saint John who does not appear in the expected apparel, wearing animal skin, warning all over, shouting and proclaiming. (I do not think that John the Baptist was a Canadian, but still he is our patron saint). Friends, When the storms of life come rolling in, when the torments of your mind is like legion, when the wrong messengers come knocking on your door, what do you do? How many strikes and lashes do we have to endure before Jesus shows up for your situation? I say, ‘none’! We only need to let go of our fears and cast all, not some, but all our care upon Jesus. How far do you think that you have to run to get away from your challenges in life before Jesus catches up with you? I say to us this morning “Zero distance”, because your Jesus is right there where you are! Even if you go to the lowest depth or the uttermost part of the earth, there he will be also. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. How many demons have to entrap us and be moving around in your heads as in the case of this unknown man, that Jesus will not be able to drive out and away from you? Scripture reminds us that with Jesus all things are possible. The only preparation is to ‘come as we are’. Hear his voice! We only need to run to Jesus because he is already on his way to us. When we run to him, we only need to throw ourselves at his feet my friends. It is called humility. Jesus is the answer for all the challenges of life. Jesus does not take your troubles and give to someone else in the community either. Jesus has the power to ensure that it goes away from you. Thousands of swines perished that day because Jesus cleansed the community in that one command. There is power in prayer. Pray that legions of evil around us be gone. Pray that domestic problems and crime looming be gone from us. We do not want it to turn to legions. Let us do our part to pray earnestly that these evil be put out of the hearts of our people. Who would ever believe that a person who is so described by St Luke in the gospel could be rescued, restored and be returned to society? Let us pray for our society. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that is too difficult that Jesus cannot turn around: no sickness, no financial situation, no job situation, no relationship situation – nothing at all. For with God all things are possible. Do you believe? So I say to us today, never give up, Jesus will help you. Never give up, keep holding on. God went to Elijah’s aid, the great prophet who commanded legions. Jesus took the stormy seas and went to the man who was confused by legion. There is no one too high or too low for Jesus not to take the stormy seas to come to you, whether you are on the opposite side or not. We are all equal in the sight of God and the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Come, come to the foot of the Cross. Despise not the messenger for God calls and uses whomever he wills. Christ died for all of us. He faced his most horrible physical torture, crucifixion,
death and burst from the grave and arose! Thank God, we are a resurrection people. And that is why following the Sermon, we affirm our belief in the words of the Nicene Creed, declaring “We believe!” We believe, through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, that all things are possible. So the encouragement for us then today is Never Give Up and a call not to despise the messenger, knowing that God calls and uses whomever he wills for his own glory. Finally my friends, we thank God that in this area of Sardis, we are a people who are seeking to represent this prophet John the Baptist. May God’s blessings continue to be always upon us as we remain faithful to the call to love and serve God in our personal lives, in the community of faith in this gathering and as servants of the same God, in the wider community.