The Grace Experiment

For this week I guess my blog will have to be called ‘A-mazing Tuesday Mornings’. Since this was Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to absorb all of it and enjoy it completely, or as someone once said, I wanted to ‘suck all the marrow out of it’. With the weather being perfect, I was able to get some work done around the house, and then on Sunday afternoon head to the Grey-Bruce area where we have bought an old (read ‘ancient’) trailer situated in a very quiet campground. I winterized it and hung out with some friends. The highlight for me yesterday was diving at Cedar Hill in Wiarton. There is something mystical and surreal about being way below the surface of a lake. Anyway…enough about that!

Two posts ago I shared a concern I have with how the church views and walks out this thing we call ‘following Jesus’. I’ve had this concern for quite a few years now, and here is where it all began.

A number of years ago I was chatting with another follower of Jesus, and they were sharing about their journey with alcoholism and how AA had been a real help to them. This person made a comment that AA for them was like their ‘first church’. They invited me to attend an ‘open meeting’. Always one to never turn down an experience, I accepted and we set a date.

On a Wednesday night we drove together to an old hall in an older residential area. People lingered outside chatting and having a smoke, and then eventually made their way in to the hall. As I stood there looking around the room a man walked toward me, extended his hand to me and said, “Welcome home”…and he meant it.

There was nothing spectacular about the meeting and the how they went about conducting it was fairly straightforward. Someone led the meeting calling various people up (arranged ahead of time) to lead the various aspects of our time together. Ahhh yes…there was one thing that was very palpable. The room was thick with grace and humility for one another.

Everyone who spoke had to introduce themselves with their first name and state, “…and I’m an alcoholic.” Everyone present responded by saying ‘hi’ along with the persons name. Dignity and grace.

The guy who was leading the night, sheepishly began the meeting trying to explain the reason for his sporadic attendance. Life was hard, and he was having a hard time. Someone from the group spoke up and said… “It’s good that you came back.” Grace.

Someone gave a ‘testimony’ about their journey into alcoholism, their crash into rock bottom, and their journey to recovery through AA. At the end, everyone applauded. Grace.

After the meeting there was social time. I listened as one man approached a younger man, probably in his twenties, and asked him where he had been and how life was going. The young man admitted that life wasn’t going very well at all…he didn’t believe he could get a handle on his alcohol problem. The other man looked him square in the eyes and said, “Yes you can [get a handle on it]…you’re here aren’t you?” Grace and hope in one sentence.

I walked away that night with something troubling me deep in my heart. Something felt like I had experienced ‘church’ – the way it was meant to be, for the very first time.

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