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Thursday, February 12, 2015

A 12-Step Ecumenical Eucharist

Note: On April 4, 2000 The Oasis NJ began to offer an Ecumenical 12-Step Communion Service for all those in Recovery, as well as their family and friends. The first service was at St. John's, Montclair, NJ. We did this because it was hard to miss the need for this service, since so many of our members "passed" on the communion wine or just happened to mention that they found out about our ministry by attending 12-Step Meetings in the Undercroft (Basement) of an Episcopal Church. When you consider that, for generations, the only real social gathering place for LGBT people was The Bar . . . well . . . as they say in 12-Step Programs, "If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you're going to get a haircut." The assumption was that those who came to this service had probably not been to a church service - much less sat in a church sanctuary - for a long time. 

Given all the conversation around the Palermo/Cook/DioMD tragedy, I thought it might be time to resurrect that Service from the dusty files and share it.  Please feel free to use it, adapting it to your local use (all good liturgy is 'stolen and adapted'), but please also give proper attribution. One last thing:  I have found that the more you give away, the more you get. So, give away as much of the Leadership of this service as you can. It's important but especially so for people with addictions who have felt judged and excluded. 

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 Contemporary Psalm               The Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

                      Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
                      Where there is hatred, let me sow love;     
                      where there is injury, pardon; 
                      where there is doubt, faith; 
                      where there is despair, hope; 
                      where there is darkness, light; 
                      where there is sadness, joy.

                      O, Divine Master, 
                      grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
                      to be understood as to understand; 
                      to be loved as to love; 
                      For it is in giving that we receive; 
                      it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
                      it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

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 . . . . ..”

The FRACTION

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.

Closing Hymn                                                         Day by Day

10 comments:

americanRuth said...

Thank you for sharing this! I'm afraid I'm not clear, though, on who to attribute authorship to. Elizabeth Kaeton? The Oasis NJ?

JCF said...

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

You have these two reversed ("Om" is Hindu, "Nam(u) myo-ho renge Kyo!" is Buddhist)

Beyond this, I am both intrigued & concerned. While, as a catholic Christian, I always love a Eucharist, as a 12 Stepper, I worry it crosses the line between "spiritual" and "religious" (12 Steps are former program, not latter).

Tell me more.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, AmericanRuth - the answer is both. I did most of the heavy lifting but it would be wrong to say that I did it alone. The Oasis Liturgy Committee was wonderful in this development.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oops. You are the fist one to pick that up. I'll check my sources and make the appropriate change.

This liturgy - as all good liturgy - came out of many hours of many conversations with people in recovery - especially LGBT people, many of whom were not Episcopalian nor could name a particular denomination they were either baptized in or attended as a child. So, if it "crosses the line between spiritual and religious" well, I'm not surprised. And, I'm not too worried about it, either.

I think of it in this way: Ells Island was not the "American Experience" - it ushered generations of people into "The American Experience." So, too, does this liturgy. It's not "The Episcopal Liturgy" per se. It's an introduction or re-introduction into the way the church, through its liturgy, can feed and nourish people who need community in The Body of Christ.

We won a lot of new members to TEC in the DioNwk through this liturgy.

Muthah+ said...

Consider this stolen! I am taking this to my new parish. Gracias.

Susan Pederson said...

What an absolutely beautiful, meaningful liturgy! Thank you for sharing it!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Muthah+ Feel free to tighten it up or otherwise adapt it to your community. That's what real liturgy is all about.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Susan. I hope you are able to use it.

Melody said...

I love that.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Melody.