Guest Preacher: Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross
Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross was appointed to serve as the senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA in 2018. From 2015 to 2018, Dr. Ross served as Director of Annual Conference Relationships for Discipleship Ministries (formerly the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church).
A native of Bluefield, WV, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government/ Youth Services from West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Master of Divinity from Gammon Seminary (Interdenominational Theological Center) and is an honor graduate in the Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary (2015).
He is married to the Rev. Bridgette D. Young Ross, Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He has three adult children: Kristina, Alyssa and Bryant. He has two grandchildren, Christopher and Jaylie.
Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak in to your life! Expect great things!
We gather here today to grow, learn and change as a group. As we begin our Bible study, we ask that you help all of us to gain a better understanding of your truth. We lay down our hearts, minds and lives before you. We ask that you move among us and help us to feel safe with one another: to think, ask for help and to question. Helps us to share our life with you and grow in our knowledge of your Word. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Scripture: Luke 8:26-39 (Common English Bible)
26 Jesus and his disciples sailed to the Gerasenes’ land, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, a certain man met him. The man was from the city and was possessed by demons. For a long time, he had lived among the tombs, naked and homeless. 28 When he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down before him. Then he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 He said this because Jesus had already commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had taken possession of him, so he would be bound with leg irons and chains and placed under guard. But he would break his restraints, and the demon would force him into the wilderness.
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had entered him. 31 They pleaded with him not to order them to go back into the abyss.[a] 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission, 33 and the demons left the man and entered the pigs. The herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.
34 When those who tended the pigs saw what happened, they ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. 35 People came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully dressed and completely sane. They were filled with awe. 36 Those people who had actually seen what had happened told them how the demon-possessed man had been delivered. 37 Then everyone gathered from the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave their area because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and returned across the lake. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged to come along with Jesus as one of his disciples. Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell the story of what God has done for you.” So he went throughout the city proclaiming what Jesus had done for him.
Pentecost is the celebration of the birth of the church, when believers of different cultures and languages were filled with the Holy Spirit and became one in the Lord. The church’s faith was born through the fire of the Holy Spirit. Every believer wants to grow in faith. Pentecost shows us that faith grows through fire!
A man possessed by demons approaches Jesus, but Jesus does not immediately cast the demons out. Jesus first asks him “What is your name?” Due to the stigma associated with his condition, the community had given him a name, “Legion.” After Jesus heals him, he is ready for a new name, but the community is not. As we are healed, we leave the identities that were placed on us and receive the identity God has put in us!
- What is a word, phrase or image that comes to mind when you read or hear the text?
- Many have heard the maxim, “It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” What is your name? Do you know what your name means? When you hear God’s voice, what names(s) does God call you?
- What does this scripture teach you about names?
- What does God invite you to do, change or be through this passage?
Discipleship Huddle Questions:
- How is it with your soul?
- How does your soul prosper?
We give you thanks, Oh God, that your love is more than we could attempt to comprehend. We trust that you are a God of wisdom, truth, and love that has been displayed in the person of Christ and that enlivens us today. Fill us with the fire of your Holy Spirit. Stir up the gift within us. That we may grow in faith in you. Amen.