Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
A part of my childhood was a close friendship with someone whose father was an alcoholic. I didn't fully understand at the time why he spent so much of his life at my house until years later, but I know my mother did. The program that was there for his father and millions of others has always held my respect and interest, Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA. Because of this, I was eager to take the Ministry to Families of Alcoholics pastoral care class in seminary with my favorite professor when it was offered, and the strong support of this church for AA was one of the things that affirmed my call to serve here.
If you're unfamiliar with the program, at its core are some values that make it strongly similar to the Church, and therefore why it makes so much sense for churches to support it. There's a recognition that everyone who comes needs help, that everyone's struggle can help others in their own, that no one is perfect, that the struggle is daily and never over, and that only a higher power can help them make the changes needed to live again.
AA gathers, like the Church, and together their members help one another through their struggles. The Church is at its best when we are honest about our brokenness, but focused on the hope of redemption for ourselves and others, and grounded in the humility necessary to do both. And when AA groups gather, as groups do 12 times each week here on JCPC's campus, they begin meetings with the Serenity Prayer, one familiar to many of us.
As believers, we gather each week to pray, to confess, to receive good news and encouragement, and to send one another into the world with hope and to face challenges. As we have been discussing Passionate Worship in our sermon series here, it's worth reflecting on how one of our worshiping communities here shares our own passion for living lives in recovery, marked by the grace of God. We know a hope and share a purpose and a love.
When I hear the collective murmur of this prayer as I walk by their gatherings, I'm reminded of my own hope and what we offer to people in need by providing the space and support of this ministry. Passionate Worship acknowledges the burdens we all have, and provides a hope that God is our rock and refuge, a message worth sharing with others.
Prayer for Today
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.