Our hope is that when this chip of a book is launched on the world tide of alcoholism, defeated drinkers will seize upon it, to follow its suggestions. Many, we are sure, will rise to their feet and march on. They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out. Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 153*
Advent is a time of anticipation, expectation and preparation. How does the forward-thinking impetus of Advent fit in with the “no expectations, no resentments” philosophy of AA? Easily. The “Promises” tell us that God will do for us what we could not do for ourselves, just as Advent tells us that God is near. AA is a light in the darkness. The Program and Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous promise us the path to a life of freedom and happiness.
An AA old-timer said at a meeting last week that Alcoholics Anonymous had brought him from a life of self-centered fear to a life of gratitude. Gratitude is the key. No matter what is going on in ourselves, our family or the world, there is always something to be grateful for. The AA tradition of November being Gratitude Month is a perfect lead-in to the Christian tradition of Advent. With grateful hearts, we begin the new year with anticipation and assurance.
So what does this mean in practical terms? How does being a grateful, sober Episcopalian affect my day-to-day life during the Holiday Season? First of all, I can be assured that the joy of the season is not dependent on my purchases. I bring the gift of sobriety to my life, to my family, friends and neighbors. The gift of sobriety includes the gifts of acceptance, thankfulness and encouragement. It includes reliability, stability and joyfulness. Anything I can buy can’t measure up to the inestimable worth of what I already bring to those I love. I can be relieved of the anxieties that who I am or what I bring or what I give aren’t good enough.
Second, being a grateful, sober Episcopalian means that I am not alone. I never have to go anywhere alone, I never have to face a family or office function alone, I never have to make a decision alone. Fellowships of AA are nearby. Meetings abound—and their numbers increase during the holidays. Many meetings supply lists of members’ phone numbers and we are all encouraged to make use of the phone. If you do make a call, you are giving that person the gift of your trust in their sobriety and their ability to help you.
And finally, being a grateful, sober Episcopalian means that I know about the cycle of the seasons. I know that Advent brings each of us renewal and promise. I know that the light overcomes the darkness. I know that despite the struggles and confusion of the modern age, God’s promises in Advent and God’s promises in the Big Book come true. We have been called, each of us, to bear witness to the Good News of sobriety, in fellowship and in hope.
* The AA Bible, Alcoholics Anonymous, was published in 1939 when there were almost 1400 people in dozens of groups who had together to obtain sobriety. Today there are over two million people who meet in over 120,000 groups worldwide. There is hope for us all.