The Third Sunday in Lent, March 3, 2013
Morning Psalms: 93, 96 | Evening Psalm: 34
Jeremiah 6:9-15 | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 | Mark 5:1-20
Years ago I had dinner with a friend on Fat Tuesday. As I finished my glass of wine I casually remarked that this would be my last for the duration of Lent. My friend was intrigued. I mentioned that in some Christian traditions these forty days are used to engage in spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer and that sometimes people abstain from ordinary pleasures in order to intentionally make room for God.
The next day my friend announced to our small group that she too would give up alcohol for Lent. The rest chimed in; the whole group decided to give up drinking for Lent.
Several days later one group member privately confessed that she was having trouble keeping her commitment to abstain. She discovered she had an addiction. She was frightened and wanted help.
If you know someone struggling with an addiction or disorder, today’s gospel lesson provides a vision of healing and hope.
Mark 5:1-20 reveals an extreme situation: a man plagued with an unclean spirit, who was unable to be contained and was found screaming and engaging in self-mutilation. His life among the tombs was “hell on earth.” He was abandoned by all—all but Jesus.
While the man was powerless over the evil spirits, he was able to run to Jesus. In response, Jesus stepped into the man’s chaos, cast out the demons, restored his sanity, and gave him a mission: “Go tell your story.” Jesus told him to let people know of God’s mercy and power to heal and restore.
The road to sobriety or freedom can be hard and messy, yet this passage provides hope: If Jesus can restore someone who was “that far gone,” then perhaps our addictions, unhealthy attachments, or disorders are not beyond the reach of His healing grace.
Almighty God, You set the captives free: Look with mercy upon us and deliver us from all that binds us and keeps us from right relationship with You, our neighbors, and ourselves. Help us to turn to Jesus who promises to never leave us or forsake us. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Andrea Mueller (DMin 2010)
Canon for Prayer and Healing Ministries
Anglican Diocese in New England
Old Greenwich, CT
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