Friday, July 26, 2013

Tea, Buffalo Sweat, and Prayer

I am a little under the weather today; so I am not visiting Krug Park for my traditional two beers new to me.  Instead I hit up my local Scooter's Coffee Shop to do my sermon editing. 

I am a big fan of Scooters.  Their coffee is great and their service is always fast.  Despite my ability to main line coffee, I went with an Earl Grey Tea today trying to get over this allergy induced congestion I got going on today.

Now, have no fear.  I did get to try a new beer last night.  My wife was out last night so I had a chance to do some music composition.  I am working on a piece for my friend Brian Hogg's Little Big Band at Northern Kentucky University.  An the rich and complex flavors of an oatmeal cream stout seemed like the perfect pairing for the Oliver Nelson-esque sounds I sought.

So, I tried  Tallgrass Brewing's Buffalo Sweat.  It is good, as one would expect from Tallgrass, but not my absolute favorite stout.  Then again nothing will eclipse Guinness in the realms of stout.  I like the rich body and the clean finish.  However, it was a little thin almost watery.  Nonetheless, if you are looking for something that isn't as thick as Guinness but still a good stout, the Buffalo Sweat is a good option.

On the preaching front, this week's gospel is Luke's account the story of Jesus teaching the disciples what we have come to call the Lord's Prayer.  The challenge here is the end of the passage includes the famous, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you," bit.   It is all fine and dandy to say that God answers our prayers except... What about the faithful who spend years praying for things never to get an answer? Like the couple with fertility issues that prays for a child, or the wife who prays for deliverance from an abusive husband. What about the man who prays to be healed of cancer or the women who prays for her son to stop using heroin?  I struggled with that a lot this week.  You should come hear my answer Sunday at Church of the Resurrection.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Doppelbock and Extemporaneous Preaching

This week's first beer is the Wolfgang Doppelbock by Great Divide Brewing.  According to their website the Doppelbock style beer was used by monks to sustain them through lenten fasting or other times of penitence, it was the original "liquid bread".  This is one more bitter than sweet, but there is definitely a hint of dark fruits in there.  The touch of sweetness is quite helpful.  Their is depth and quality to this beer, which is to be expected from Great Divide.

On the preaching front, my summer seminarian is preaching his final sermon of the summer on Sunday.  I expect it to be fantastic because he knows how to, "bring the Word" as it were.  Nonetheless, today I am writing about last week's preaching experience.  I worked hard on my sermon last week, which you can read here, and a big shout out to Krug Park for my editing experience last week.  It greatly improved the quality of the sermon.  However, when it came time to preach it, I just could not deliver it. 

See, I woke up Sunday morning, like a lot of preachers, to the news that George Zimmerman had been acquitted.  The parish I serve is the product of a merger of a white parish and black parish; so I didn't feel I could ignore this public event.  I try not to let flashes of public attention sway my preaching too much.  I think holding to the long view better insures I'm paying attention to what God wants me to preach.  However, on that particular Sunday, with the question from the Good Samaritan Story of "Who is my neighbor?" hanging heavy in the air, and the beautiful people I humbly serve at the Church of the Resurrection, it would have been inappropriate and a failure of leadership not to speak to it.  

So, I preached about it. 

I found out about it Sunday morning, and I didn't have time to write anything; so, it was an extemporaneous morning.  Now, I can preach extemporaneously.  Sometimes that feels better for a particular sermon, and I have no fear of it.  This time, however, there was the added challenge of not saying something stupid.  On Sunday morning, there was an explosion of comments, sermons, articles, rants, and explicative outbursts on everything from Facebook to CNN and a lot of it was stupid.  On all sides of the issue people were reacting not responding, and I didn't want to be yet another white dude adding to the stupidity out there.

So, what did I say?  I don't remember everything, and to some degree I am very glad there isn't a record of it; however, I tried to stick to what I was most sure.  I was and I remain certain that George Zimmerman did not think of Treyvon Martin as his neighbor.  When Mr. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle that night he DID NOT think, "that's my neighbor".  I don't know what exactly he was thinking but I know he wasn't thinking that.  Jesus, challenges us to expand our concept of neighbor; so, I challenged congregation to answer Jesus' challenge.  Furthermore, I reminded the congregation of what Martin Luther King Jr. preached about the Good Samaritan story: we are not only challenged to be the Good Samaritan but to reform the whole Jericho wilderness road so that anyone can walk it at any time of day and night. 

I don't know if it was the right thing to say or not. I probably never will. But I know George Zimmerman did not think that Treyvon Martin was his neighbor. I know he should have. I know God loves us and challenges us to love each other as much as Jesus did. And, I know we have a lot of work to do.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Spaten Lager, Pepper Beer, and the practice of Piety

Today's first beer is a Spaten Lager.  I don't always drink lager, but when I do it might as well be German.  Actually, I rarely drink lager, but my recent trip to Ohio complete with Yuengling lager inspired me to try one today.

I have to admit, there is just something refreshing about a well brewed lager on a summer day.  The weather is beautiful today here in Omaha, and the Spaten was a nice complitment.

The second beer is unique.  It is Krug Park's Chili Trek Ale.  Some guys from Krug Park went to O'dell Brewing and brewed a few kegs of this special.  It is a delightful balance of pepper and malt flavors with a touch of hops.  Kudos to these guys for offering up something special for us customers.

The sermon this week is about Piety.  I know that some think that piety is the same as legalism, but I am making an argument that faithful practiced piety is both healthy and sustaining.  Come check it out a the Church of the Resurrection Sunday at 10.  An amazing lunch follows the service and the music rocks.