12 Step Eucharist St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Little Rock, November 6, 2019, 5:30, Luke 20:27-38, 27 C
Our gospel passage is about resurrection, new life after death, being “children of God, children of the resurrection.” John Sanford told us that the kingdom of God or what some might consider heaven is not only in the afterlife but also present in this life around and especially within us.1 So many of the Psalms remind us that heaven is here on this earthly home if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear and hands to care for it.
Bishop Jake Owensby and the writings of Marcus Borg remind us that the “Christian life follows the pattern of resurrection: dying and rise.”2 Resurrection to a new life occurs in this life as well as at our physical death. Those in a 12-step group should know more about resurrection than many other people. In our addiction we are living a life of death, death to the person God created us to be, but also a living death for those around us. Our addiction becomes the God of our understanding. Everything begins to center around that addiction to the exclusion of others. If we are traveling, we must make sure we carry plenty of hidden alcohol with us just in case we cannot find enough at our destination. The same is true for food, drugs, and even work. Our homes are filled with secret storage places for our drug or alcohol or food of choice. We drink or use to celebrate, and we drink or use when things are not going well.
Recovery is resurrection to a new life, a new life where we gradually can hear and see heaven on this earth, within us, and within others, without the use of mind-altering substances. As we not only recite these same 12 steps we say tonight and actually work them and put them into practice, we discover a new God of our understanding, always a God of love. We learn from this God about surrender, forgiveness, and gratitude. We learn about love for our neighbor and love for the person God created us to be. Our addictive substance is no longer the love of our life.
At our physical death, the only thing we will leave on this earth is that love, the love we give to the earth itself, the love we give to everyone we encounter each day, the love we give to our family and friends. The only thing we carry with us into the final resurrection to be more connected to the God of love is also that same love we shared on this earth. The love we have learned about and shared in our resurrections in this life is the only thing that will never die. Love lives in this life and is alive in the life to come. It is a great mystery that we and the Sadducees must keep learning about it and practicing it through these 12 steps each day, one day at a time.
1 John Sanford in The Kingdom Within
2 Jake Owensby in A Resurrection Shaped Life (Abingdon Press) XIV.