On April 13th I had the privilege of representing St. Thomas at the Jackson Recovery Centers banquet. In 2012, St. Thomas was presented the Rudy Oudhuesden Spirituality Award for past commitment to the work of recovery in Siouxland. Foremost in the minds of the presenters was the fact that St. Thomas had provided space through “the white house” and “the yellow house” as a nesting place for AA groups for years before these structures were leveled to make way for something else. Thus, this award last year, and last year’s award-winners (St. Thomas) presenting this year’s award to Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Since I was going to be there anyway with a collar around my neck, I was also asked to provide the opening invocation and closing benediction. I have tremendous respect for recovery work, so I considered it a real honor.
I hope this got to the heart of 12-Step work, which is maybe the hardest and most realistic we can get with our souls in this country.
What follows, then, is the text of that opening prayer I gave.
Let us pray.
Holy Creator, Loving God: You made us, you know us. You are the loving companion presence along the way, from before the beginning of everything to after everything that is shall cease to be.
Every day you see us try and fail and succeed and fail and try and get it right and then, in the same breath, get it massively wrong. You see us and hold us as we make this amazing, stumbling journey through our lives. You know that life is not pretty; that the fact that we were made from dust should be a clue about where our home is. The symbol some of us carry on our bodies – the cross where Jesus died – is, at the very least, the mark of your acknowledgement of our condition.
And yet you know – and you’re always trying to remind us – that in the end it’s really all going to be okay. You call us each by name and care for us as a loving parent: strong, just, peaceable, not as a judge from on high, but only so as to strengthen your children.
We are so grateful that your love for us does not depend upon our daily performance, but instead rests on something deeper and much more fundamental. We place ourselves in your care again and again and again.
Bless us who labor in service and in compassion for the sake of all humankind.
Bless this food we are to receive to make us strong to serve.
Bless this gathering, that we who gather may be made whole once again.
Bless all whose lives are linked with ours.
Bless those who do the hard work of recovery.
That all may be uplifted, and your holy name be blessed.