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Sharing the Peace

I was visiting with a young man I have been counseling the other day. He wanted to talk about Jesus and spirituality. He did not grow up in a household that went to church. However, it was and is a household filled with love.

He became exposed to aspects of the faith by attending AA meetings. This was a beginning for him to explore the meaning of life having been fed by these sessions. As someone who has been clean and sober since 1988, I understand the power of those gatherings. At the core of the AA table of grace is the 12 Steps.

Thirty years ago, I wrote a booklet “Twelve Steps in Christ.” It was predominately used in Rescue Missions across the country that serve the homeless. Over the years attending a few thousand AA meetings I have often heard from members who said, “if only the church I went to had such a program.” Or, “Everyone needs the 12 Steps to have a better life.”

I must confess that some of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have had come from 12 Step table meetings. The people come, some out of legal duress, but others voluntarily to share their life experiences. As the program evolves people will talk about what they were like and what they are like now.

This program might be best described as an active attempt to abide in God. Meaning to live in God and letting God live in us.  The power of the 12 Steps is in hearing people share their stories. Our faith tradition does not promote the testimonial approach to building community and I believe it is our greatest weakness as a denomination.

Another aspect of the 12 Step approach is that it can help the participant prune away stuff that gets in the way of living in the peace. The longer an alcoholic participates in the program they quickly see that the drinking was not the core problem, rather issues of life that were not well managed caused enough pain to promote the drinking meant to ease such pain.

Recently, in a conversation with Kevin O’Brien, I have felt called to rewrite this booklet as a guide to fulfilling the peace. It will feature many of the key 12 Steps but will be modified to explore how we might be in the best position to share and receive, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and work for justice. Once this work is completed it will be suitable for small group meetings. My hope would be that we will invite members of the community to these meetings as well. The booklet might be entitled “# Steps on the Pathway to Peace”

 I am asking for your prayers as I begin this journey. We will make copies of the original booklet available for those who have not seen it.

May God bless you and keep you all of your Days!


Pastor Mark

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