Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Christ in the Ale House

The Huffington Post - a rather cheeky, tongue in cheek pseudo-newspaper carried the following headline on December 10, "LATEST JESUS SIGHTING OUTSIDE AN IRISH PUB IN AUSTRALIA." Contributing correspondent Marc Hartzman noted that "Jesus' first recorded miracle was turning water into wine. But now, it seems, he may be more in the mood for a beer."

It seems that when the Seanchai Tavern began a project of repainting, the pattern of remaining paint on the stripped away door bore a remarkable resemblance to Jesus standing as if to greet customers with outstretched arms. The owners of the tavern have no intention of repainting or covering up the image as it has brought in lots of business and has attracted curiosity seekers and religious iconoclasts alike.

Reading this made me think about the life and ministry of Jesus who was equally comfortable teaching in the synagogue as he was eating in the home of a tax publican or visiting with a Samaritan woman at a public well - a scandalous thought for most good religious Jews of his day.

Throughout history, theologians like Martin Luther didn't mind discussing the finer points of dogma over a pint of their favorite brew. And somehow, I agree with the preacher at our Presbytery meeting last night who said, "If Jesus were alive today, we undoubtedly would find him at the local pub hanging out with those who weren't really the religious."

That is different than saying some vague image in chipped paint is a sign from God or that one establishment - be it a pub or a grocery store - is more favored by the Lord by showing his face on the door.

I am just about ready to walk out my office door and head to downtown Enumclaw to the friendly confines of the MINT - Enumclaw's own Ale House. It has been the home to a Wednesday night group of Christians and seekers alike who gather to enjoy some good pub food (love the Pizza Bread, the Rueben and the Border Burger) and a glass of wine or a pint of their favorite sudsy libation. For nearly five years now, this group has gathered to discuss a variety of different topics, Bible Passages, thought provoking books or the previous week's sermon.

I'd like to think that Jesus was spotted in the tavern as we gather there. We've prayed for members of the staff, thrown a going away party for one of our favorite waiters/bartenders as he headed off to culinary school. We washed the bathrooms, mopped their floors and pressure washed their sidewalks one FAITH IN ACTION SUNDAY. And most of all, we have been a regular presence filling the round tables in the fireplace corner. I hope our lives, our words and our actions have been representative of the Lord. I would hope that in some small way, when we leave, it could be said that "Jesus was in the house in the form of those 15 people who meet there every week."

It may not be a tavern but I wonder if people see Jesus in the other places I go - Rotary, the Grocery Store, the marina where we moor our boat, at the traffic light and the Starbucks window? Does my life reflect the love and grace of the Lord or am I just kind of an abstract amalgam of chipped paint?

I think I am going to bring this idea up for discussion tonight. Gotta go meet Jesus at the Tavern.

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