We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Demons… in our own time

From the SALT blog.

The Devil presenting St Augustine (of Hippo) with the book of vices. Michael Pacher (c1435-1498).

1) “Since many people today don’t typically interpret the world in terms of demons and exorcisms, it can be tempting to apologize for this passage as obsolete and unconvincing. But this is a false start. After all, when we read the Bible we engage ancient texts from halfway around the world — it’s only to be expected that they’ll feel cross-cultural and unfamiliar at first. Think of this as a kind of travel through time and space. The opportunity here is to stay open to how another way of thinking and living can shed new light on our own.

2) “Any number of death-dealing forces today are often experienced as “possession” or being “caught up” in dynamics that far exceed our intentions or control. Think of how addiction overwhelms individuals and families; how racism and white supremacy shape-shift over time; how anger consumes; how envy devours; or how all of us, even against our will, are complicit in creating the blanket of pollution overheating the planet (2023 set the record for the hottest global year on record). We may or may not call addiction or racism or the sexual objectification of women “demons,” but they are most certainly demonic. They move through the world as though by a kind of cunning. They resist, sidestep, or co-opt our best attempts to overcome them. And as we make those attempts, the experience can be less like figuring out a puzzle and more like wrestling with a beast.

3) “And so for Mark, Jesus comes into the world to wrestle with these shape-shifting beasts. The word “salvation” comes from the Latin salvus, which means “health” — and in Mark, Jesus’ idea of salvation isn’t to give us a ticket to a heavenly land in the sweet by-and-by, but rather to bring new health into our lives and communities today. For the sake of all people and the whole of creation, the death-dealing forces around us must be confronted and, ultimately, overcome. To follow Jesus is to join him in just this kind of confrontation, to speak and act with boldness and clarity, to heal and liberate with our words and at the same time with our deeds. As Mark tells it, when Jesus says to the disciples, “Follow me,” he means follow him into the fray, into the shadows, into the menace itself. He means follow him into the work of building up from the ruins, of freeing the captives, of salvation (health!) in that sweet by-and-by, sure, but also and especially “immediately,” right here and right now.

4) “That’s the challenge. And the good news of the Gospel this week? That however formidable such death-dealing forces may seem, with God’s help, they can be overcome. However deep our wounds may be, with God’s help, they can be healed. In short, that the renewed health of God’s salvation and sanctification isn’t just possible — it’s on the way!”