Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next
The above is the last half of the famous Serenity Prayer. It is little known and little used but it is the powerful ‘how to’ of the previous verse. Without this half, the first verse and its prayer for wisdom and peace is bound to disappoint.
I came upon this verse as we put on our first ‘Recovery Workshop’. I say ‘we’ though I do little more than unlock the door and put on coffee. A good friend and pal of mine, shares the lessons he was taught over the years. The workshop is designed to share the “How To” of recovery. My pal is a respected member of the AA community and people come to learn from him. We just started our fourth workshop and it is a joy to see the ‘light bulb’ turn on for people.
Before collaborating with my pal I had tried many times to offer a “Christian” 12 step program. I was never able to draw more than a few people and was never able to sustain the program, and I never saw the kinds of change I am seeing now! When I was presented with the opportunity to host this workshop I sensed that this was an opportunity. I decided that trying to offer an alternative to AA was not working for me and this was perhaps an opportunity to ‘evangelize’ in a different way.
It is often not until week three or four that I am introduced as a ‘minister’. People are often pleasantly surprised, because by then they have got to know me as person. In this way a relationship is built that gives credibility to the ‘Good News”.
The Bible is never quoted only the Big Book is referenced in the workshop but like the above prayer the Big Book points directly to God as the sole source for living a responsible and useful life. Conversations and continuing relationships are growing from these workshops. At our Open House and Grand Opening for Street Hope probably ¼ of the people that came were from this community.
The secret of this for Street Hope is the recognition that the ‘old way’ was not working and the prayerful seeking of a ‘new way’ to bring good news effectively into people’s lives. Changing ways is key!
I advocate this kind of shift for the aging and increasingly ineffective church in the ‘West’. One of my favourite authors Reggie McNeal reminds us that we are not trying to change the church, we are trying to change the world! The Church must surely change to reach this goal. Such change calls for humility and faith. The second part of our Serenity Prayer demonstrates that it is only in actively following the example of Christ, the way of humility and faith, can we experience such change.
As a final thought I have been really captured by the quote from the Big Book “Half measures avail nothing.” Luke warmness will not change us or our Church!