Demons? Really?
January 28, 2015, 12:00 AM

Because of the Annual Meeting, there will be no sermon this Sunday. 

That said, I was still looking at the Gospel this week (Mark 1:21-28), and had a couple thoughts.  Worshipers in the Synagogue in Capernaum were astonished at the authority with which Jesus taught and cast out demons.

I don’t cast out many demons, and, frankly, I don’t know of any other Episcopal priests who do, either.

For my part, I’m not sure I quite believe in demons as much as I believe in the power of God to help us through what Hamlet called “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Slings and arrows can be bad enough, as I am sure you know.  They might be losses, such as being fired or the death of someone we love; they might be burdens, such as a diagnosis of serious illness (our own or a relative’s), or employer demands that are simply too much.  I expect that you might have a list of your own, as do I.

So who needs demons?

I’ve noticed a certain tendency of many Christians to blame God for those slings and arrows: “Why is God doing this to me?”  Maybe we need demons to take the blame off God?

Maybe we need demons to take the blame off our own bad choices, our own mistakes, our own misuse of freedom or judgment?

Maybe we need demons to give us an excuse to not do what we know we need to do?  “The devil made me do it!”

The author, Oxford don, and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis used demons as a comedic way to make serious points about the true path of Christian discipleship in his book, The Screwtape Letters.

In this book, senior demon Screwtape advises his nephew, Wormwood, on ways to ensure that his “patient,” a new Christian, falls by the wayside. He says that a new Christian may soon come down from that mountaintop experience into a period of dryness and anticlimax. “The Enemy [God] allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour. The Enemy takes this risk because He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His ‘free’ lovers and servants – ‘sons’ is the word He uses…”

If you are feeling the bruises of slings and arrows, remember this: God did not bring you to this pass; God walks with you every day, whether you can feel it or no.

Above all, be not dismayed.  God is here.