Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Persistent Widow and the Winter Ale

Today I am starting with the Jubelale by Deschutes Brewing. 

It's a very balanced winter ale.  Clove, Chocolate, and Hops are held in balanced harmony like a nice meaty chord from a symphony by Brahms.  Its full flavor and hearty texture it well suited to get through a hard winter.  This beer, a roaring fire, a thick novel with a romantic period symphony blaring from your stereo is the way to go.

Preaching wise the Gospel this week is the parable of the persitent widow from Luke's 18th chapter.  It is paired with Jeremiah's vision of the "the days [that] are surely coming".  I can't read that passage without hearing my favorite band Tangled Blue's rendition from their advent album.  Check that track out!  It's good stuff, and also a good compliment to the Jubelale Winter Ale.  

The challenge with this reading is to not make God seem like a concierge that is at the ready to answer half prayerful whims.  Rather the story is about being faithful to God even when there appears to be evidence against a loving God.  Paired with the Jeremiah reading which promises divine amnesia toward our sins, and we should be inspired to be faithful and respond with persistent trust and striving for justice for the oppressed. 

Next up is the is the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.

This one hits you with a lot of pumpkin on the front end.  The spice is all on the backend, but the finish is clean so the allspice and clove are discernable.  Shipyard suggests pairing it with pumpkin pie.  I think that would be way too much pumpkin.  They also recommend a BLT which makes way more sense, it needs a salty food to compliment the sweet of the beer. 

Well, I didn't get to do the side by side comparison of Odell's Eugene and the Samuel Smith Chocolate stouts. BUT, I did float the idea with the bar tenders and hopefully that will happen this winter.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shine-Stroud Wedding and Chocolate Stout

We had a wonderful time at Lara Shine and Daniel Stroud's wedding this weekend.  I got to hang out for a bit at 1823, the campus pub of Virginia Theological Seminary.  It's no coincidence they have an Englishman for a Dean and recently opened a "proper pub" on campus.  It was great to visit with alumni from Resurrection House, one of my old Profs from Seminary, and try this Double Chocolate Stout from Wells and Young Brewing in the UK.  It's good, but I wouldn't say it is as good as the Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout by O'dell Brewing which I have written about here. The chocolate flavor is prevalent but not overwhelming.  However it was a little thin, almost watery, as opposed to creamy.  Nonetheless it was a decent beer by which to raise a glass to Lara and Daniel's Happiness!  Congrats to the happy couple.
Tonight, I also had this pint of Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout.  It's supremely delicious! I would put it up there with the Lugene Chocolate stout mentioned above, maybe even a little better.  I would have to put them both side by side to be sure...hmmm that's a really good idea.  Hopefully Krug Park will have both on tap soon.  I paired this beer with a grilled hamburger from B & B Meat Locker of Wynot, NE, one of our favorite vendors at Omaha's Farmer's Market.  We also roasted some root vegetables and onions.  This beer fit perfectly with the menu, a hearty beer for hearty fair.

I didn't preach this weekend, a well needed break.  I love preaching week in week out.  The rhythm of prayer, study, and preparation is life giving and might be the best way that I am a disciple.  Nonetheless, having a week of not preaching on occasion helps keep the creative ground fertile.  It's like resting a field for a season so that the soil can regain nutrients. So, I am excited to gear up for next week's sermon.  Prep begins tomorrow and culminates with editing at Krug Park on Thrusday with, hopefully, a side by side comparison of the Lugene and Samuel Smith Stouts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to listen to a sermon.

Last week my wife joined me for a beer at Krug Park, my favorite watering hole.  We got to talking about sermons and how I might get better at preaching.  It is a hard craft to develop because critical feedback is hard to get.  Someone telling you they enjoyed the sermon as they walk out the door doesn't tell you how it affected their life or faith, if at all.  As my wife savored the Weyerbacher Imperial Ale pictured below and written about here, we began to realize that folks might not know how to critically listen to a sermon.  

For example, I was in a used book store the other day and I picked up a listening guide to Charles Ives' Unanswered Question.  This is a piece of music that is as mysterious and complex as it is simple and direct.  The listening guide not only pointed out features of the music to listen for but encouraged a particular attitude or state of mind to approach the work.  When I went home and listened to the piece I could hold the structure of the whole piece in mind even as I heard the details of each note.  I could "hear the forrest and the trees" if you will.  Therefore, a listening guide for sermons in general might be helpful in a similar way.

Try this one on for size:  when listening to a sermon think of the following acronym: P.R.A.Y

  • Participate -- be an active listener and don't be afraid to agree and disagree, or encourage and motivate, the preacher vocally.  
  • Response -- what is your immediate gut level response to the word preached.  Is it conviction or motivation, inspiration or gratitude, boredom, joy, anger or something else.  
  • Action -- What action, if any, are you motivated to take? What is God calling you to do through the sermon?  
  • Yearning -- What are you still yearning for after the sermon?  Is it more clarity or less conviction, more hope or less direction? What questions are you inspired to ask?
Now if this acronym is helpful for you, then I have an invitation for you: Come hear me preach, then join me for a beer (my treat) and critique my preaching on this outline.  It will help you listen and help me become a better preacher, both of which will strengthen God's Kingdom.