The Bishop’s E-pistle: Recovery

I used to participate in jokes about Episcopal drinking habits, and for years led a Bible study in a bar called “Bible and Brewskis.” It was a good intention–moving the Gospel into the world, breaking down the walls between church and society, and witnessing that Christians could be “fun.” No one ever drank to excess during Bible and Brewskis, and many stuck to soda or water.

But I wonder how many people didn’t dare attend because of the name.

There are plenty of articles about how drinking alcohol has increased during the pandemic. This week there was another article in the New York Times focusing on pandemic drinking, particularly among women with young children, and how people are trying to cut back.

The Episcopal Church has a complicated relationship with alcohol. Many congregations had traditions of two or three martini lunches with clergy, or Vestry meetings over cocktails. I’ve witnessed clergy conferences get out of hand with unhealthy drinking. And yet we also host many AA meetings, and it was in the basement of an Episcopal Church, with support of an Episcopal priest that Alcoholics Anonymous began. All dioceses, including our own, now have policies about alcohol use at church events.

This Sunday, I will be visiting St. Philips in the Hills, Tucson, and at 10:00 a.m. they will be livestreaming a “Recovery Eucharist” with me as Celebrant and Preacher. The 12 Steps have been integrated into the liturgy in places that seem natural–proclaiming faith in a higher power, confessing, amending, praying–and it will be an opportunity for all to reflect on those things to which we are addicted and seek God’s help to move toward healing and release. You can find links on the St. Philip’s website.

If it is of interest to you, I invite you to join us in worship and prayer on Sunday. I also invite you to learn more about our Diocesan Recovery Ministry.

And if you are one of those who are asking themselves if they have a problem, or if you are needing support because a family member has a problem with alcohol, your local congregation should have contact information for resources in your area.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

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.