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Step 5: Admitted our wrongs (Integrity)

5- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Integrity)

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 5: 30-32

But their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against Jesus’ disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

And a Reading from Psalm 27: 1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lords is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

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, pps. 45-46)

This may be one of the most challenging steps we face in our recovery process, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling in terms of removing us from isolation…

There are basically five types of wrongs we should share:

  • We need to acknowledge all of our addictions.
  • We need to acknowledge what went wrong in our families of origin to initiate our codependent love hungers.
  • We need to acknowledge the multi-generational wrongs that may have led to our family of origin situations. We need to understand and be compassionate toward the families our parents emerged from.
  • We need to acknowledge the wrongs that have occurred in all major relationships in our lives.
  • We need to acknowledge the specific ways in which we have wronged others by the practice of our addictions.

Because these areas are so sensitive and so very personal, it is important to exercise care in choosing the person or persons with whom we formally share our fifth step.

A reading from Addiction and Grace (Gerald May, 1991, Harper One, New York, pps. 165-166

With confession and repentance, the battle is waged and mind tricks begin in earnest. Honesty becomes more difficult and, simultaneously, more important. Now honesty involves steadiness. It is a willingness to continue to face the truth of who we are, regardless of how threatening or unpleasant our perceptions may be. It means hanging in there with ourselves and with God, learning our avoidances, acknowledging our lapses, learning completely that we cannot handle it ourselves. This steady self-confrontation requires strength and courage. We cannot use failure as an excuse to quit trying. We cannot fake surrenders or contrive rock bottoms. All we can do is just stay there, trying to be at least partially faithful and present to ourselves as God is.

HOMILY                                                           Pastor Melissa Lemons

October 21, 2018            12-Step Service

Brothers and Sisters, greetings of grace and peace to you in the name of Christ. We pray that each of us here will hear a message that we need today. Amen.

Today I could not decide which scripture to read so I didn’t choose. I wanted something to parallel the message of Step 5 that if we are suffering we need confession and we need Jesus’ healing within the context of community. And, I wanted something to remind us of the other steps. We never do spiritual work alone. God is with us and so we need not fear the past, the present, or the future.

Some of you may know that I was raised in a Baptist church in rural Virginia. I had a hard time understanding Jesus as love because I was always told what a big sinner I was. Passages like this one from Luke might scare me or make me angry. Now that I get to preach the Gospel in Lutheran settings, passages like this one bring me comfort. I am always saint and sinner, always made righteous by Christ’s gift and always in need of healing and confession.

Some days it can feel a little strange to say we are always two things that most people think of as opposites, but it is the truth. I am righteous because God said I was. I am a sinner because I cannot help but to seek my own way. I have to constantly be in prayer and conversation to try to follow God’s way. It’s a kind of sickness and a very real part of the human condition.

I know that lay people argue about whether or not substance abuse or addiction is an illness, a disease. I won’t contribute to that argument, but I know from talking to people in various places in recovery over the years that it’s a lot like being simultaneously a saint and sinner, we might be sober and we will always be in need of staying in recovery.

I can’t help but jump ahead to the later readings, so I want to acknowledge that confession, to myself and to others can be intimidating, frightening, embarrassing, and lots of other emotions all rolled into one. That’s why the Psalm was so important; it’s a reminder that God is with me and even though I may feel afraid, I don’t need to be afraid. God is already loving me and forgiving me and as we said last week, God already knows the worst already.

God doesn’t ask us to be other than we are, only to invite Jesus in.

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