Every Sunday, the Celebrate Life Recovery Worship is held at Central United Church from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. The service is specifically designed to support individuals and families on the journey to recovery from addictions, regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey.
The program started with “The Cracked Pots” playing hymns on their instruments at the front of the room. The congregants sing with the band for a couple of songs, before the service starts.
A prayer is held for an individual who has recently passed away. He used to help play the tambourines for the band. The pastor, Wayne Lewry, then introduced himself, “My name is Wayne and I’m a recovering alcoholic and ex-convict.”
Wayne started with a personal story. He used to laugh a lot. His laughter hid his inner feelings, his anger and resentment, the dark side of him that he didn’t want anyone to see. He used to stuff his anger to a deep place inside, scared that if the darkness ever got out, it would engulf those around him.
As Wayne opened his heart to God, he realized that no matter what he did, no matter who he was, God loved him. God did not love him any differently when he was a convict to when he was a pastor. Through love, Wayne experienced the Creator’s healing power. God did not mind that he was defective and imperfect; Wayne was the one who needed to embrace his dark side with love. “We are only as sick as our secrets,” he shared, as he expressed gratitude for the support of his loved ones and God in his journey to accept and love himself. Love transformed his life; it gave him the courage to look into the mirror and tell himself that he was enough.
Wayne’s message reverberated through the church: We are all more than our worst deed, more than the labels that have been placed on us. We are not just alcoholics, drug addicts, refugees, immigrants, cashiers, or CEOs. We are lovers, neighbours, fathers, mothers and friends. We are all human. And the bottom line is that we are loved, and can love, and therefore, will prevail.
Wayne is a man who has lived through hardship, suffered the prejudices of others, faced his own inner demons and lived to tell the tale. And his tale is one of love and hope. Through his beautiful story, he offered God’s unconditional love to every single person in the church. The people who attend this service are those who have fallen through the cracks. They are the abusers, the rejected and the dejected. Wayne’s message is powerful, no matter how far you fall or how much hurt you have caused, there is the possibility of change and living well with God and others. As one attendee said, when he first attended the service, he was a “hopeless dope addict.” Now, he’s a “dopeless hope addict.”
For more information about the service, contact Diane Scheibner at Central United Church. Following the Celebrate Life Recovery Gathering is an Open CA meeting from 7:30 – 9:00 pm.