Epiphany 5

Mark 1:29-39
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Last week American science fiction/fantasy novelist Ursala Le Guin passed away, she was 88. I am not much of a science fiction reader. I was introduced to Ursala Le Guin in my first year of seminary when one of her books was required reading for my liturgy class. I thought it was a mistake when I saw Ursala Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea on the class reading list. But… turn’s out… Dr. Lathrop wasn’t crazy after all (a little crazy, maybe).

A Wizard of Earthsea was the first novel of a trilogy about an adolescent wizard in training named Ged. During a failed spell Ged unleashed a dangerous demon who began to pursue him. As the novel proceeds the demon closes in on Ged, intent on destroying him. Ged’s wizard mentors advise him that the only way he can stop the demon pursuing him is to figure out its name. A demon cannot be contained except by being named. Naming the name of the demon vanquishes the demon.

With the demon literally breathing down Ged’s neck and clawing at Ged’s back he turns and yells the first name that came into his mind, his own name. As it turns out the demon’s name is Ged’s own.

I know what you’re thinking, it was the same thing I thought when I read the book the night before it was due. “What the heck does this have to do with liturgy class?”

Here’s another question, what could A Wizard of Earthsea possibly have to do with Jesus casting out demons in Mark’s Gospel?

What do you think?


  1. Joy Gerhart

    We are our own worst enemy. We have to get out of our own way and let God be God. Interesting that the name Ged is so close to God.

    • Kathy J

      I agree, Joy! My son in law writes novels that are the same genre as the Earthsea series! Fantasy, other worlds, unusual creatures (both good and evil), magic and special powers, etc… When we read his first novel the whole family spent a lot of time (and laughs) trying to figure out which family members influenced his characters and creatures! Along side all the good in each of us and the good gifts that God gives us, we have our “demons”, and quirks, and distractions! They can certainly get in the way! I think Mark’s stories about Jesus casting out demons and healing people (as confusing as they can be!) give us a chance to pause and refocus – on the good, on what God wants for us, and on what God wants us to do!

  2. Charles Weiser

    If Jesus had stayed in town, we would have been inundated with more healing opportunities. He would have only been known as the healer. There was so much more to do and places to go. He left and while continuing to heal, he did much more. After all, this was about more than just Jesus’ medicine shop. Taking the break and alone outside of town, might be how he figured this out. Of course to me it is always strange to know what Jesus knew exactly what God’s plan was for him.

  3. Carole

    Everything about this Gospel lesson said “meditation” to me. The silent waiting of what comes next, the willingness to be open, the patient listening. I don’t meditate near as much as I’d like to. But times that I’ve experienced anger, and was unable to understand the root of it, meditation helped me name it. Understand it. Get to the root of it. And then it lost its power. And all the anger dissolved. Are we able to destroy our demons by listening to God and naming them? While quietly praying and meditating? I definitely think so.

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