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Spiritual Practices for Easter Preparation

Lessons from the man with the impure spirit (Mark 5:1-20).

Easter Preparation is the 40-day (not counting Sundays) season preceding Easter in the GCI worship calendar when we individually and corporately acknowledge that Jesus is saving. This year’s dates are February 22 to April 8. During this season we seek to open ourselves to more fully appreciate our deep need for Jesus as we nurture a posture to receive the overflowing graces of Good Friday and Easter.

For some, this season may bring to mind somber traditions of fasting and sacrifice, shame and scorn, striving and suffering, or worst of all, no coffee! For this reason, many of us may be particularly hesitant about this liturgical season. Thus, we miss out on an important time of renewal.

This season is about more than sentiments of suffering, feelings of unworthiness, or acts of arbitrary self-sacrifice. It’s about Jesus and going deeper into relationship with him. We go into the season under the reality and the hope of the resurrection, which changed everything,

In Jesus’ resurrection we encounter humanity’s great hope—the good news that makes sense of the past, gives peace for the present, and provides hope for the future. By leading us to encounter our need for Jesus, Easter Preparation prepares us to receive the good news of our risen Lord anew each liturgical year.

Opening ourselves to an appreciation of our deep need for Jesus is a humbling experience. The Gospel accounts are full of examples of those who came before Jesus in humble recognition of their deep need. There is one account in particular that I want to explore to illuminate Easter Preparation season.

In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus encounters a man with an impure spirit that was beyond the help of human effort. No one was able to save him or even ease his suffering. He lived his life in the tombs amongst the dead. Upon meeting Jesus, the impure spirits knew they had finally met the only one who could save the man they had seized. After an unusual exchange between Jesus and these spirits, we read that the man is found “dressed and in his right mind.” Beyond the help of human hands, this man was saved by Jesus alone.

I believe that in this account, we encounter the heart of Easter Preparation. In more ways than we care to admit, we are beyond the help of human effort. While we may not find ourselves in the exact predicament as this man, apart from Jesus we are also the ones who live our lives in the tombs. We are in deep need of Jesus, and he is the only one who can save us.
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2 thoughts on “Spiritual Practices for Easter Preparation”

  1. It is quite a disturbing thought to think of from God alienated human beings as being the “living dead”, i.e. “spiritual zombies” desperately needing the power of the resurrection in the tombs and/or dark places in our lives. But, I think, in our time, that can be a useful working image when sharing with others the liberating and healing truth of the gospel.

  2. Inspiring article – I may copy it and send it to a few who don’t have computers or online access!

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