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Step 3: Will & Care (Faith)

3-Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God. (Faith)

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 10: 13-16

Jesus announced and enacted in history the new reality of God’s surprising activity. These two stories demonstrate this new reality: Women and children are accepted and valued, not dismissed as inferior to adult men.

13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

The Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God.

A reading from Serenity: A Companion for 12-Step Recovery (1990, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 35)

Step 3 invites us to get out of the center of our universe and hand that place back to God. As we move into any addiction or dependency, we tend to become more self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-preoccupied in trying to address the pain driving the addiction. Paradoxically, this self-preoccupation draws us more deeply in to the addiction. …

Breaking out of this bondage of self does not mean we ignore or deny our needs. In fact, quite the reverse is true. If we can discover healthy, God-directed ways to meet our emotional and physical needs, then we become less needy, less selfish, less self-preoccupied individuals…Discovering what our needs are and asking to have those needs met may be one of the most unselfish things we do. All of us have needs, and all of us have choices as to how those needs are met.

A reading from As Bill Sees It (2009, Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc., p. 23)

We found we had indeed been worshippers. What a state of mental goose flesh that used to bring on! Had we not variously worshipped people, sentiment, things, money, and ourselves?

And then, with a better motive, had we not worshipfully beheld the sunset, the sea, or a flower? Who of us had not loved something or somebody? Were not these things the tissue out of which our lives constructed? Dis not these feelings, after all, determine the course of our existence?

It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, or love, or worship. In one form or another, we have been living by faith and little else.

HOMILY                                             Pastor Melissa Lemons

This passage from Mark makes me think about what it means to be a child. When I meet people who say they don’t like children they often explain their dislike as resulting from encounters with a lot of childish people, both kids and adults. There is a difference between being child-ish and being child-like. Childish people often behave in a petty manner. Maybe there’s complaining or whining and pouting and general self-centeredness. It’s not pleasant behavior and not a mature attitude.

On the other hand, people who are child-like, no matter their actual age, encounter the world with a sense of wonder and joy. They remain curious, about themselves, others, and the wider world. They know how to play hard and rest deeply. Children feel things without a filter about how they are supposed to feel or think. They can approach other people and God expressing their needs and desires while still expecting someone to care enough to meet those needs.

I’ve spent most of my life teaching psychology to college students. We often talk about Erik Erikson’s Lifespan Development theory known as PsychoSocial development. Erikson’s first stage, which covers the first year of life, is Trust vs. Mistrust. Infants develop well when they form a basic trust the caregivers in their lives will meet their needs well most of the time. No one is perfect and no situation is completely safe all the time, but basic trust is enough. If we cannot trust those early caregivers are lives are a little off from the beginning. Without basic trust that we are loved and people care that we are fed, and clothed and protected from danger, it’s harder to work on some of the other aspects of life.

For Erikson, our social relationships set up the basic conditions for moving in the world. We can trust God to love us and forgive us and really know us. Some of our family members offer conditional love. If we behave a certain way or do certain things, then they will show us attention and care. God doesn’t work that way. God offers us unconditional love. The Lord may not always like our behavior, but our love and acceptance, God’s empathy and  compassion remain available to us.

This may be hard to believe for some of us. We often hear God called, “father” and if we have not had great parents, this may make it difficult to trust the Lord. God is the ultimate parent, the maker of all and we, all of creation was declared, “very good.”

So, knowing that about God means that we can look to the Lord, asking questions, and brining our joys and concerns and trust that the Lord wants to help us meet our needs the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual ones.

Thanks be to God.

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