Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2021 Blog Number 26
June 28, 2021
Driving Out Demons
On the Monday that this is posted I will be conducting a burial service for a man who grew up in our congregation. He died, troubled and alone in an SRO (single room occupancy) in a city a few miles away from our town which was his childhood home. In recent years I administered a special needs trust for the man set up for him by his late mother. This funeral and burial have been some of the most difficult that I have done in the last thirty-seven years of ministry.
This gentleman grew up in the church. He succeeded at everything he tried. He was a gifted musician and graduated at the top of his graduating class in high school. Later he graduated from an engineering college and taught there for a while. He received his master’s degree and was one dissertation short of his PHD.
I didn’t know him in those days. I only knew a different person. The person that I knew suffered from two different mental health disorders and refused to take medication. The person I knew self-medicated with alcohol and chained smoked tobacco. At times, I believe, he smoked other things as well. His sister told me that he was fine until college but then something “snaped” in him and he was never the same after that.
His mother, a Godly woman, prayed for him until the day she died. She was very patient with him by allowing him to live with her. I suspect that at times he was abusive to her but she would never discuss this. I prayed for the man and tried to engage with him but he would never engage. He claimed to be an atheist and told me to start reading Nietzsche.
Jesus gave power to his disciples to drive out demons. I have never demonstrated such power. I was never able to reach him or help him improve his quality of life. He died alone in his litter-strewn room, surrounded by his piles of hoarded collections.
When I received word of his death I struggled with guilt. What more might I have done for him? How could I have reached him? Since then, while helping his sister prepare for the wake and the funeral I keep asking myself what to say. How does one do a funeral for such a bright star that crashed so fast and far?
The answer came to me as I sorted through some of his old papers. I found his baptismal certificate among his papers. It was near the top of the pile in a folder of important papers. I assume, because of its placement, that he valued it despite calling himself an atheist. For all his demons and troubles, he belongs to Christ. I could not drive his demons out, but Christ has. His troubles and tears are over and that is something to celebrate. May the bells of heaven ring. He has been restored to what he was created to be.
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/
Christians seem desperate for validation, to the point of trying to convince themselves that an atheist really wasn’t.
Considering that Christians can’t agree on what baptism means, there is no reason to think anyone belongs to some magical being that cannot be shown to exist.
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