Thursday, 19th Week after Pentecost

Text: Acts 19:11-20

Prayer Pointers:

To avoid magical thinking

To not try to manipulate God, but be brought into his work

For those who practice magic and idolatry

THE EXPERIENCE OF THE EXORCISTS, along with the reference to magical materials, is an important reminder that the core issue Paul confronts in Ephesus is idolatry. To oversimplify, idolatry is the desire to elevate to ultimate status things that are not ultimate, with the expectation that those things will serve human ends. In the long story of humanity, we have made idols of everything that is in creation to serve human ends: fertility, military power, economic security, social standing, and more. Even the current practice of magic, while different from ancient forms in certain ways, starts in an idolatry of the individual self that expects to project personal power to affect the world. Acts, like the Gospel of Luke, roots idolatry in greed, and should always make us ask what is fueling a desire for good fortune and success.

The Jewish exorcists in our story are an illustration of idolatry. Most magical practices teach that knowing the name of another being, whether natural or supernatural, gives the name-holder potential control over that being. With the name—and certain incantations—the magician can accomplish his or her goals. Having seen what Paul did in the name of Jesus, they try to appropriate the name for their own purposes, which include charging people money for their work. This event demonstrates that the name of Jesus cannot be used independent of the Lord’s own good purposes—you simply cannot bend the name of Jesus to accomplish what you want. His name is given to his followers, those who have been made a part of the kingdom of God and who are walking in the way of Jesus Christ.

We are tempted to magical thinking when we believe that we can, by our words or deeds, manipulate our Lord into doing what we want. The prayer of the child of God is always the prayer of Jesus himself: Lord, not what I will, but what you will—let your will be done in my life, to your glory.

May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks


Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

824 N. Buchanan Blvd. 

Durham, NC 27701

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824 North Buchanan Blvd, Durham, NC 27701 | 919-682-6030  |

Mission Statement: We are called to Welcome Everyone to Walk the Way of GRACE, and walk in that way in our individual lives, in our shared life in our various communities, in our common life with our neighbors, and even to the world at large as God sends us. The Way of Grace is to: GROW with Jesus, REJOICE in God, ANSWER with hope, CARE for the neighbor, and EMBRACE community.

Vision Statement: God has a plan FOR OUR LIVES, and so we teach how to walk in the path of Jesus Christ; FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, and so we work to build healthy and strong communities; FOR OUR CITY, and so we share life with our neighbors in Walltown, Trinity Park, Duke, and the Triangle; and FOR OUR WORLD, and so we go with Good News.

Core Values: Because God loves us first, we value worship rooted in Scripture and Sacraments, service to all people, and being a welcoming community that loves and forgives one another.