Last year during Holy Week, I came out sober. I had been sober for just days past six months and I was invited to preach the Clergy Renewal of Vows sermon in the Diocese of Oklahoma on the Monday of Holy Week. I wrote multiple sermons that were Actually Awful (like we’re talking, “Webster’s dictionary defines..”) before I sat down and, in record time, wrote the sermon that I spoke aloud to a room full of clergy at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City.
Today, for my final reflection in this series, I’d like to offer that sermon, which you can read here in an adapted form. This sermon (and I do not say this lightly) changed my life. Sobriety was my resurrection, but in these proclaimed words I walked out of the tomb. These words hold the moment when I walked out of that tomb, the bright light of known truth touching and warming my face for the first time; my eyes were squinted as I looked into the future, never once knowing what the days and months of life outside of the tomb could hold. Since giving this sermon, I discerned a call to leave parish ministry, I transitioned into working full time in sobriety and recovery, and I just moved to my dream city (Austin, TX). These are movements in my life I never could have foreseen, movements in my life that have felt as shocking to me as the multiple times a day when I acknowledge that I live a resurrected life, that my skin is the skin of a resurrected body. November 11th (my last day one) will always be my Easter Day; I’ll never reconcile that with the liturgical calendar. But April 15th will always mark the day that I fled the tomb to go tell others about the tomb I escaped, the day I pointed to an empty tomb to say that death is temporary and it does not and will not have the last say in my life, now or in the hour of my death.
Thank you for spending some of your time this Lent with me, thinking about a sensitive world--the world of sobriety. I would like to continue to talk about this with The Hive community if there is energy around it, and if you would be interested in that, I’d love to hear from you. I also want to offer to you that I am a member of The Hive community and I am here for you, if this series evoked anything in you that needs some prayer and exploration.
I will leave you with this: getting sober is the best thing I have ever done for myself and there are days I consider my sobriety to be nothing less than an ontological change. My prayer for you is that, however the means, you receive a palpable blessing that drags you out of whatever tomb holds you and into the bright, warm light of resurrection. I pray you are, now and always, showered with grace, love, and the abundance of a life of freedom.