Subject: Spiritual Formation Kit: Luke 8:26-39

  HMBFC ____
Spiritual Formation Kit
DIY Bible study

After pondering the Scripture passage for this week's worship gathering, the staff of Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community put together this spiritual formation kit for groups and individuals to use.

We hope that it will encourage transformation as you encounter God's voice in fresh ways through the Bible; connection as you talk and pray together; and interaction as the sermons become less of a Sunday morning monologue and more of a week-long community conversation.
Frame your time together with prayer.
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
Follow this link to center your hearts and minds with silence, the responsive prayers, and/or music. Read and discuss this week's passage from Luke instead of the passages suggested by Common Prayer. After discussing the passage with the questions below, close your time with prayer for each other and the benediction.
This week's text
Read this passage aloud once or twice.

Compare this week's passage to parallels version in Matthew and Mark. 
Background Info

Enhance your knowledge with insights from scholar-in-residence Dr. Dan
This is a very odd story. Who is this naked guy, and why is he bound with chains and shackles among tombs? Why does he identify himself as “Legion”? What’s Jesus, a Jewish prophet, doing near a herd of unclean pigs? And what’s all this talk about demons and exorcism in the first place?
In one sense, this strange account is similar to other ancient exorcism stories. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus claims to have witnessed an exorcism performed by a man named Eleazar. When performing exorcisms, Eleazar “set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it; and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man” (Antiquities 2.5). The pigs in Luke’s story serve a similar function; they are evidence that the exorcism was effective. But what do we in the twenty-first century make of such reports? While some are skeptical and think that if this man were living today we would diagnose him with a severe mental illness, perhaps schizophrenia, others today continue to believe that our world is populated with supernatural beings such as angels and demons and that this man truly suffered from demonic possession.
Whether we interpret this story literally or metaphorically, when we read it against the backdrop of the Roman occupation of Israel in Jesus’ day, a couple of details stand out as potentially significant. The term legion, for instance, referred to a unit of soldiers in the Roman army, and swine are famously considered unclean according to the Hebrew Scriptures (Leviticus 11:7-8). Some have therefore seen this portrayal of Jesus’ casting a legion into unclean animals and driving them into the sea as a critique of Roman imperialism. When read in this light, this peculiar account of possession and exorcism is transposed into what is perhaps a more relatable story of oppression and liberation.
Reflection Questions
Guide discussion with these questions or ask your own.
  1. When you read passages about demons in the Bible, do you take them literally or metaphorically? Are there really spiritual creatures who can inhabit and control human bodies? Or are they characters that symbolize spiritual realities about the human condition? What common ground is there between these views?
  2. The demon gives its name as “Legion” which is a Greek military term for a unit of several thousand soldiers. What does this military reference suggest about the relationship between Jesus and the empire?
  3. The healing of the demon-possessed man came at great cost to the community - the swineherds lost their entire livelihood. Why did Jesus think this was justifiable?
  4. Why did the man beg to leave with Jesus? Why did Jesus send him back to his home instead? What would that transition have been like for him?
Our Response
Consider how to act on today's insights.

  1. Is there a comfort zone in your life where you are clinging to Jesus but he is pushing you into a space that feels less safe?
  2. In what ways can you “pay the price” in order to see healing in the lives of others or in yourself?
Bonus Round
Go deeper this week with further reading and reflection.

Some historical context from the PBS series “From Jesus to Christ.”
Shane Claiborne imagines Jesus liberating a glutton on the streets of New York in the wake of the mortgage crisis.
Talk about this stuff with other people
Join a weekly discussion group
Just contact the leader to get directions.

HMBFC / Thursdays @ 7pm / Penny Lyon
HIGHLAND PARK / Thursdays @ 9:15am / Emma Orbin
NORTH SIDE / Thursdays @ 6:30pm / Belle Battista
SOUTH SIDE / Wednesdays @ 7pm / Jeff Eddings
YOUNG ADULTS (at HMBFC) / Thursdays @ 7pm / Natalie Wardius
MT. LEBANON / Thurs. @ 7pm bi-weekly / Barb & Don Wardius

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