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A Cup of Grace

Alcoholics Anonymous and the Church

Posted by Kevin Schutte on

One of my favorite authors is Frederick Buechner.  He is a gifted wordsmith and offers insights into the Christian Life, which both challenges and comforts. Below I am providing an excerpt from one of his books, Whistling in the Dark; a doubters dictionary.  I think he appropriately challenges the church.  Church is much more than an AA meeting, but is it really less? We are so guarded, so consuming, so caught up in keeping up with the Jones’, at least in the Suburban environment I find myself in. Wrestle with what is said here.  “Hi, my name is Kevin and I am a sinner.” From Buechner:

When they first start talking at a meeting, they introduce themselves by saying, “I am John. I am an alcoholic,” “I am Mary. I am an alcoholic,” to which the rest of the group answers each time in unison, “Hi John,” “HI Mary.”  They are apt to end with the Lord’s Prayer or the serenity prayer. Apart from that they have no ritual. They have no hierarchy.  They have no dues or budget.  They do not advertise or proselytize. Having no buildings of their own, they meet wherever they can.

Nobody lectures them, and they do not lecture each other. They simply tell their stories with the candor that anonymity makes possible.  They tell where they went wrong and how day by day they are trying to go right. They tell where they find the strength and understanding and hope to keep trying. Sometimes one of them will take special responsibility for another – to be available at any hour of day or night if the need arises. There’s not much more to it than that, and it seems to be enough. Healing happens. Miracles are made.

You can’t help but thinking that something like this is what the Church is meant to be and maybe once was before it got to big business.  Sinners Anonymous.  “I can will what is right but I cannot do it,” is the way that Saint Paul put it, speaking for all of us. “For I do not do the good I want, but he evil I do not want to do, I do.” (Romans 7:19)

“I am me. I am a sinner.”

“Hi, you,”

Hi every Sadie and Sal. Hi every Tom, Dick and Harry. It is the forgiveness of sins, of course. It is what the Church is all about.

No matter what far place alcoholics end up in, either in this country of virtually anywhere else, they know that there will be an A.A. meeting nearby to go to and at that meeting they will find strangers who are not strangers to help and to heal, to listen to the truth and to tell it.  This is what the body of Christ is all about.

Would it ever occur to Christians in a far place to turn to a church nearby in hope of finding the same? Would they find it? If not, you wonder what is so big about the Church’s business? P.4-5

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