(In observance of Juneteenth, marking the end of legal slavery in the US, June 19th, 1865)
Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.
They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding;
and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these.
So he gave them permission.
Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine,
and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
The demon is “Legion,” a division of the Roman army,
tool of domination, demon of oppression possessing us.
The system’s plague infects the individual.
Our demon is white supremacy, the plague of whiteness.
It chains people, excludes them, wounds them.
It’s not our fault. It’s no one thing, but a Legion.
When racism gets called out we’re frightened.
We who profit from it object. It’s the voice of the demons.
Jesus sends the demons into a large herd of swine,
—kept, surely, to supply the Roman army—
sends them hurtling down, down, down into the sea,
the cosmic abyss, the darkness and void,
the waters where the Spirit of God broods,
where only the voice of God calls forth light.
He subjects the instruments of Empire,
the tools of subjugation, to God’s new creation.
This is Jesus’ work: to exorcize demonic systems,
to subject dominance to the creating grace of God.
Every black body freed is a victory of God.
But we are still possessed by Legion.
We’re not free of the demon yet.
At the edge of our town a tormented voice cries out.
We stagger reluctantly toward Jesus.
—June 19, 2019