Miss MacLeod was the boss of a big company and she needed to call one of her employees about an urgent problem with one of the main computers. She dialled the employee’s home phone number and was greeted with a child’s whispered, “Hello?”
Rather put out at the inconvenience of having to talk to a youngster, Miss MacLeod asked, “Is your Daddy home?” “Yes”, whispered the small voice. “Can I talk to him?” she asked.
To Miss MacLeod’s surprise, the small voice whispered, “No.”
Wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, “Is your Mummy there?” “Yes”, came the answer. “Can I talk with her?” Again the small voice whispered, “No.”
Knowing that it was not likely that a young child would be left at home all alone, Miss MacLeod decided she would just leave a message with the person who should be there watching over the child. “Is there any one there besides you?” she asked the child.
“Yes” whispered the child, “a policeman.” Wondering what on earth the police were doing there, Miss MacLeod asked, “Can I talk to the policeman?” “No, he’s busy,” whispered the child. “Busy doing what?” “Talking to Daddy and Mummy and the Fireman”, came the whispered answer.
Growing concerned and even worried as she heard what sounded like a helicopter through the ear piece on the phone, Miss MacLeod asked, “What is that noise?” “A hello-copper” answered the whispering voice. “What on earth is going on there?” asked the now rather worried employer.
In a voice full of awe the child whispered, “The search team just landed the hello-copper.” Alarmed, concerned, and more than just a little frustrated the boss asked, “What are they searching for?” Still whispering, the young voice replied along with a muffled giggle: “hee hee, they’re all looking for Me!”
Hide and seek is one of those games that will never be superseded by an electronic games console. It’s impossible because it’s a game that needs both people and a good sized house or other location.
Do you remember playing Hide and Seek as a child? Were you one of those who preferred to be a hider or a seeker? Did you find a place to hide which meant you were really difficult to find, or did you always choose a pretty obvious hiding place so that you would be one of the first to be discovered?
When I was at school I once tried to organise a professional Hide and Seek tournament – but it didn’t work – good players are just too hard to find!
Though hide and seek is just a game, how we feel about it, says a lot about the kind of person we are. Do we need to be found or are we content to be lost?
These questions are brought to mind by the Gospel for today.
In it, a man who wears no clothes, lives out in the tombs and describes himself as ‘Legion’ because of the ‘many demons’ that had ‘entered him’ is saved by Jesus.
The reading is a mysterious passage and some of the words can seem strange to our modern minds. Yet central to it is the sense that Jesus seeks to bring wholeness and healing to those who call upon him. Even those who hide amongst the dead.
The man tormented by the demons possessing his life, asks Jesus, who had already commanded the ‘unclean spirit’ to leave him, ‘What have you to do with me Jesus, son of the Most High God?’ He was lost and though some might have given up on him Jesus seeks, finds and restores him to life.
What about us, though we’re here at church this morning, do we too sometimes feel a bit lost and need to be found again by Christ?
If so, then we need to ask, what would he find hiding in our lives? What demons have possessed and frustrated God’s loving purpose in us?
Most of us struggle with the word ‘demons’ yet few of us would doubt that there are things that can undermine the fullness of life to which we’re all called. They cannot be ignored if we’re to be constantly transformed by our faith.
This morning’s Gospel describes a life changing transformation for that man, from being a lost outcast, he is restored ‘clothed and in his right mind’.
Yet, like him, if we’re to be, in St. Paul’s words, ‘clothed with Christ’ we need to always be open enough to let Christ find us, let him touch the depth of our souls and transform us.
But we do have to want to be found, we have to want his love to come and continually transform us. It’s so easy to stand still, to reach a certain point in our journey of faith and then not to move, to decide that the change around us in society and the church is all too much and not seek to engage with it.
It’s a bit like what was happening in Galatia, described in our Epistle. They had found Christ, yet it was too much, they wanted to hide and Paul speaks to those who found certainty in the easy security of the law.
Paul knew that any law which divides, separates and frustrates doesn’t speak of the God of transformation and he reminds them that in Christ there is ‘no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, make or female; for all are one in Christ Jesus’.
The radical freedom Jesus brought changed their world. Likewise the living Christ in us, can be frightening, for he challenges everything in which we find security. For some, then as now, it can be too much.
In our Gospel those who witnessed the man’s transformation were ‘seized with great fear’ and they asked Jesus to leave. It was easier to send him away, to hide, than to live in his life changing love.
We might draw a parallel with life for so many today; they don’t wish to be found and they probably don’t even think they’re lost. Yet Jesus seeks them too.
When a child first plays hide and seek they need to be encouraged to overcome their caution and fear and to hide. Sometimes an adult will need to go with them, to reassure them that they won’t be lost forever.
What we do in our church buildings every Sunday morning may not be Hide and Seek but we do need each other’s encouragement and help to find Jesus in our midst. Whilst society has changed and the church has struggled to keep up, that doesn’t mean people no longer need the redeeming love of Christ.
Having been found, we’re called to go and be his people amongst our neighbours. So a challenge for each one of us this week is to not be afraid, to leave this service, like the demon possessed man his life now transformed, ‘proclaiming the good news’ of just how much ‘Jesus has done for’ you. Go from here and in the strength of the Holy Spirit seek those who are hiding and waiting to be found.
May God Bless you and those you hold dear during this coming week.