Anyone who’s ever been associate with Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA), either as a member, a sponsor or a supporter will know well the stories of Bill W., the founder of the movement. Some may not know, however (as I did not) the story of Samuel Shoemaker, sometimes priest to Bill W. and sometimes credited as “co-founder” of AA.
Shoemaker’s hagiography is well documented elsewhere, and I’ll leave exploration of that to your own time and interest. What is most important to me, though, is the simple fact that Bill W. had a partner in establishing the AA movement and, ultimately, helping many addicted folks to health and wholeness.
While, as a church, we are want to mark the accomplishments of individuals and celebrate saints in isolation, the truth of the Gospel is one of cooperation at all levels. God cooperates with us to bring about the salvation of the world (our faith, working with God’s grace), thus we should expect that, more often than not, we will work together to bring about the miracles that express God’s healing presence in our midst.
As we celebrate the ministry of Samuel Shoemaker, today, let us also consider the countless other unnamed saints who have assisted those we hallow in becoming the “lights of the world in their generations.”