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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A 12-Step Ecumenical Communion Service

I was recently asked for copies of an Ecumenical 12-Step Holy Eucharist I designed a few years ago. I thought perhaps folks in this neighborhood might like to have a look at it, too.

I wrote the Prayers of the People on my own, in my office, over a three hour period. I have to tell you that after praying the 12-Steps, I had completely ruined my clergy shirt with perspiration stains. I came away from that experience humbled and with deep respect for anyone who lives a life of Recovery, one day at a time.

You are most certainly free to use them. Proper attribution would be appreciated.

For the life of me, I can't remember where I got the Eucharistic Prayer, but I do remember that I did some tweaking of it.

Neither can I remember where I got either the Opening or Closing Prayers, and they are likewise "tweaked".

They will, no doubt, get the Reptillian-Brained Trolls on Viagra all excited (they DO love to hate the one they've come to call 'The Buddhist Bishop', don't they?), but I think it makes a good opening prayer for an Ecumenical setting where folk come from a variety of religious backgrounds.

And, quite frankly, some folk are more deeply committed to the spirituality of the 12 Step Program than they are to a particular religion (And not without good reason, in many cases. At least, in my experience, anyway.).

If anyone recognizes the source of any of these pieces and can identify them, please do, and I'll make proper attribution. The best liturgy is stolen liturgy, I always say.

A 12-Step Communion Service:
An Ecumenical Celebration for all those in Recovery,
their family and friends.

Call to Worship:

Leader: Come into the circle of love and justice
Come into the community of mercy, holiness and health
Come and you shall know peace and joy.

Leader: I light this candle for all those who have not yet found the path to recovery. May they be guided by the light of truth and hope.

People: Amen.

Opening Hymn (Day Is Done)

Opening Prayer

Leader: The journey to recovery brings us to a place where we come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to wholeness of life. We call upon that Power by many names and in many ways.

Baruch ata Adonnai! (Hebrew)
People: We bless you for your steadfast and faithful love.

Leader: Gloria! (Christian)
People: We praise you for the gift of creation and all your creatures, great and small.

Leader: Kyrie eleison! (Orthodox)
People: We thank you for your boundless compassion, mercy and forgiveness.

Leader: Om! (Buddhist)
People: We echo the sound at the center of the universe which is everywhere, not the least place in the human heart.

Leader: Alleluia! (Judeo-Christian)
People: We praise you for love that survives anger and despair, which outlives sorrow and death.

Leader: Nam myo-ho renge Kyo! (Hindu)
People: We thank you for the calm which is the seed in the dark.

Leader: Salaam! (Islam)
People: We bless you for the peace which passes all human understanding, all human barriers, all human failings.

Leader: Ache! (Yoruba)
People: We praise you for the power which comes when we admit our powerlessness and for the strength which comes when we surrender.

Leader: Amen!
People: For endings that are beginnings, for beginnings that are endings.

Leader: Amen!
People: We are going on.

Leader: Amen!
People: Blessed be!

The First Lesson The Wisdom of Solomon

I am mortal, like everyone else, a descendant of the first formed child of the earth, and in the womb of a mother was I molded into flesh within a period of 10 months. While I was born I began to breathe the common air, and fell upon the kindred earth. My first sound was a cry, as is true of all. I was nursed with care in swaddling cloths; no kind has had a different beginning of existence. There is for all one entrance and one way out. Therefore I prayed, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.

The Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

The Contemporary Lesson Wild Geese (Mary Oliver)

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Gospel Hymn Wonderful Words of Life

The Gospel Luke 11:9-13

“That’s why I tell you, keep asking and you’ll receive; keep looking and you’ll find; keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; whoever knocks, is admitted. What parent among you will give a snake to their child when the child asks for a fish, or a scorpion when the child asks for an egg? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will our heavenly Abba give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?

The Sermon

Prayers of People in Recovery
Adapted from the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Leader: Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

People: Holy God, we ask that you always disturb us with your truth, comfort us in our affliction, and unite us in your love.

Leader: Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

People: Help us remember that you are always with us, and open our ears to listen for your word as you express yourself in others.

Leader: Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.

People: Sustain our desire to stop our addiction to food, alcohol, drugs, money, sex, gambling or any other addictions, which is the only requirement to begin our recovery.

Leader: Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (Silence is maintained for a period of time.)

People: Forgive us those things, known and unknown, done and left undone which have hurt others and ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

Leader: Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

People: We pray for our families, friends and neighbors, for all who are sick, friendless and needy, and for those who live alone. We ask for the courage to love and serve one another as you have loved and served us.

Leader: Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character (Silence is maintained for a period of time.)

People: Strengthen us in the words of the Psalmist: The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not reject.

Leader: Step Seven: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

People: Have mercy on us, O God, according to your loving kindness; in your great compassion, blot out our offenses. Wash us through and through and keep us in your mercy and wholeness.

Leader: Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

People: Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble that they may be delivered from their distress. Give to the departed eternal rest, let light perpetual shine upon them.

Leader: Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

People: Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake, that our works may find favor in your sight.

Leader: Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admit it.

People: Lord, you are our shepherd, we shall not be in want; even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for you are with us, guiding our feet on the path which returns us to you.

Leader: Step Eleven: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

People: Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things we pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day.

Leader: Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

People: God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Leader: Lord, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you, my own peace I leave with you:” regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with God our Creator and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, now and forever.
All: Amen!

The peace is shared, and the service continues
with the Offertory and Holy Eucharist.

An Ecumenical Eucharist in Celebration of Recovery

The Spirit of God be with you
And also with you

Lift your hearts to heaven
Where Christ in glory reigns

Let us give thanks to God
It is right to offer thanks and praise

It is right indeed to give you thanks most loving God,
through Jesus our Christ and our Redeemer,
With us always, one of us, yet from the heart of God.

For with your whole created universe
we praise you for your unfailing gift of life.
God’s love is shown to us: while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us.

In that love, dear God, righteous and strong to save,
you came among us in Jesus our Christ, our crucified and living Lord.
You make all things new.

You pour out your Spirit on all. You empower us to know your truth
and fearlessly to proclaim your gospel among the nations.
Your love fires our hearts; and in your Spirit
we hunger and thirst for justice in the world.
Now is the acceptable time,
now is the day of salvation.

Therefore with saints and martyrs, apostles and prophets,
With all the redeemed, joyfully we praise you and say,
Holy, holy, holy! God of mercy, giver of life;
earth and sea and sky and all that lives
declare your presence and glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of our God!
Hosanna in the highest!

Accept our praises, living God, for Jesus our Christ,
the one perfect offering for the world,
who in the night that he had supper with his friends,
took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said:
+ Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you;
do this to remember me.

After supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks,
He gave it to them and said:
+ Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant
which is shed for you, and for many, to forgive sin;
do this to remember me.

Empower our celebration with your Holy Spirit,
+ breathe on these bodily gifts that they may be for us
the Body and Blood of Jesus, our Christ.
Feed us with your life, fire us with your love,
confront us with your justice, and make us one in the body of Christ
with all who share your gifts of love.

Therefore, God of all creation, in the suffering and death of Jesus,
our redeemer, we meet you in glory.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Here and now, with this bread and cup, we celebrate your great acts of liberation,
ever present and living in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen,
who was and is and is to come.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit,
with all who stand before you in earth and heaven
we worship you, Creator God, now and forever
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, let us join hands in solidarity and say . . .
“Abba, Our Mother, Our Father . . . Who art in heaven . . . . ..”


An Invitation to Communion

May you love God so much that you love nothing else too much;
May you fear God enough that you need fear nothing else at all.
Come, all you who hunger and thirst for the living God.
Come to the table to eat and drink.

Communion Hymn: Amazing Grace

Closing Prayer

Let me be at peace within myself. Let me accept that I am profoundly loved and need never be afraid. Let me be aware of the Source of Being that is common to us all and to all living creatures. Let me be filled with the presence of the Great Compassion towards myself and towards all living beings. Let me always be an instrument of liberation and not oppression. Let me see the face of Jesus in others; let me be the face of Jesus for others. Let me be at peace within myself. Amen.


David said...

this is a wonderful gift of insight and grace by a generous heart
and it only confirms for me the living blessing you are Elizabeth.
thank-you for sharing this, I will be passing it on to several to whom it will real comfort
and who will once again have cause to see what a real and alive place our Church is.
thank-you again Elizabeth


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, David. Spread it around to all whom you think may appreciate it

Kirkepiscatoid said...

O. M. G.

This is an amazing work. Wow.

I have always said all along, there is nothing "12 steppers" are doing that we shouldn't all be doing. We are ALL powerless to some kind of addiction, even if it does not come from a bottle or a pill box.

This speaks to so many people on so many levels, not just "the addicted."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

OMG, indeed, Kirke.

Paul Powers said...

A couple of minor quibbles:

Nam myo-ho renge Kyo is a Buddhist prayer, not Hindu. Actually, I believe it's used in a particular sect of Japanese Buddhism. I'm not sure that it's used in Buddhist prayers elsewhere, but ocicbw.

Om, on the other hand, is used in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

I am not familiar with either of these religions to know whether their followers would consider your use of these prayers to be appropriate in this context, and I'm curious whether you consulted with clergy/theologians from these faiths about it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Good questions, Paul. I did this years ago and I do remember checking with some folks about their origins. Obviously, I got it wrong. Thanks. I'll make the corrections.

Ken said...

As one who indeed 12-steps thru AA, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what you have given us here. Since it is my anonymity to give away, I have no problem putting my name to this. Thank you, Elizabeth.b

Paul Powers said...

This liturgy could also easily adapted for a 12-step interdenominational prayer service in situations where a eucharistic celebration isn't possible (e.g. because no priest is available) or might be problematic for some reason or the other.

But while I can see this as a very effective and moving liturgy for Christians of various flavors and stripes, I'm not sure though whether people from faith traditions outside Christianity (e.g. Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists) would feel at home with this service. Even though this liturgy pays tribute to other religions, it is an overwhelmingly Christian service (especially the Eucharistic portion).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Ken. I am humbled by your generosity.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Paul, I think this could easily be adapted for an ECUMENICAL Prayer service - w/o Eucharist - but it would need MAJOR revisions in order to be an INTERFAITH service.

This was designed to be ECUMENICAL - meaning, Christian. The Interfaith "flavor" of the opening prayers probably confuse that. I was thinking that the Interfaith "flavor" would more greatly honor the "Higher Power" spirituality of the 12 Step Program without actually saying that. Does that make any sense?

MarkBrunson said...

For the Hindu, "Aum" would be the preferred spelling.

"Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" is also referred to as "Daimoku" and the chanting of it is primary to Nichiren and Tendai (T'ian T'ai)schools of Buddhism, in the US Soka Gakkai International particularly uses it. It is difficult to actually translate, but for "place-keeping" reference, it can mean "I take refuge in the mystic law of the Lotus Sutra." It is chanted because Nichiren believed that mankind and its practice had become so corrupted that real practice toward enlightenment was impossible, and invoking the Lotus Sutra was a way to rely on the merit of the Buddha for favorable rebirth/Nirvanic cessation of rebirth.

Nichiren Buddhism has had a . . . rocky relationship with other schools, as it tends to claim to be the only "real Buddhism."

Other Buddhist chants, more widely known and used and without Nichiren associations are:
Namu Amida Butsu roughly: "I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha." A chant used in the Pure Land or Jodo School of Buddhism to invoke Amitabha's vow to bring all those who call upon him to his Western Pure Land of rebirth - close to Christian Heaven. Also based on the Lotus Sutra's prediction of a time of advanced corruption making real practice impossible.
The very-well-known:
Om Mani Padme Hum - used as a mantra almost universally in Buddhism and with ties to its roots in the Brahmanic religion. It is an invocation/meditation on Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Kwannon, Kannon, Kwan Um, Kwan Yin) who is the great Bodhisattva of compassion - usually taking a female form and, in the early days of Christianity in Japan, sometimes associated with Virgin Mary. It refers to a name/style of Avalokitesvara's, "The Jewel in the Lotus." Further explanation would depend on which school and branch and type of Buddhism you're dealing with, and which teacher - it's that universal and Avalokitesvara is that revered.

Hope this helps!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Wow. Thanks so much Mark. I think that greatly improves the opening prayers. Just one word of caution: You wouldn't be running for bishop anywhere. I mean, we don't want the Trolls using this as evidence against you. ;~)

Paul Powers said...

That makes complete sense, Elizabeth. I had confused "ecumenical" and "interfaith."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

An easy enough mistake, Paul.

MarkBrunson said...

A bishop, Elizabeth? Never!

I love the Church and its people! >:D

Carol Mead said...

Elizabeth, I am putting together a "recovery Eucharist" for our church. May we "borrow" from this liturgy in our service? We would be very grateful for the help.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Of course, Carol. Proper attrition appreciated. Please do note the helpful comments from Mark Brunson.