11 November 2010
Naming It Holy: God on Tap
Last night we had our first "God on Tap" night at Grumpy Doyle’s Pub in Reading. We had a great time with about twenty people at two tables.
I have to admit I was a little anxious about it. I wasn’t sure who would come or what we would talk about. And so, leaving nothing to chance, I had a plan for focusing our conversation. It was this picture I saw on the door at Starbucks· couple months ago. When I saw it, it immediately struck me that when Starbucks says “Take Comfort in Rituals” its totally cool. When the church says it just sounds old, boring, and placating.
But it got me thinking about the rituals in our daily lives we take comfort in - and that reminded me of the wonderful reflections from Kathleen Norris in The Quotidian Mysteries, about how the the rituals in our daily lives function much they way that the liturgy does. They create a rhythm, they bear us along. Oftentimes, even the annoying rituals and routines of our lives give it shape, meaning, and focus. In short, our lives are a liturgy, and the liturgy of the church is one part of it.
Yeah, we didn’t use any of that. And if you want me to send you the cards I printed with the picture and some questions on the back, just give me your address.
But here’s the thing. We talked about God all night.
I had theological conversations all night - about baptism, organized religion, how someone was telling their friend about church. ·And people just talked about their lives, which is theological too. It was four hours of theological reflection - all much more and much better than I bargained for.
Toward the end of the night, were talking about church - mainly its problems - but one person was trying to put his finger on some of the power that ministers have for the good. He couldn’t quite articulate it, but I knew where he was going. I said, “It’s naming the holy.” Naming things in people’s lives - their work, service, family life, having a beer - naming their entire lives as holy.
This is a pretty Lutheran idea. Luther argued that holiness does not belong to a particular class of people - the clergy - or a particular place - the church or monastery. The holy is infused in every person and every place.
The whole night proved the point. All I really did to make this pretty cool thing happen last night was to call it “God on Tap." In doing so, I named the pub as a place where God is present. I named hanging out at the pub - gathering at table in community as people of God - as something holy and good. And that’s all it took to get us talking.
Martin Luther once wrote to Philip Melanchthon, “God is at work even when we are drinking beer.”· Last night, for us, this was most certainly true.