Saturday, June 7, 2008

In praise of coffee

I realized how important coffee was to me, and just how much other knew this, one Sunday after church. As I made my way to the fellowship room, walking decisively toward the coffee table, the crowd parted like the Red Sea. “Am I that bad?” Yup.

But I’ve got a problem. I’m a Starbucks drinker in a decidedly Dunkin Donuts town (by the way, Starbucks coffee is “rich”, not “strong”). At last count there were at least a dozen DD places in Saugus (counting the small ones at gas stations and Home Depot). I think there’s a town ordinance that when you leave a DD you have to be able to see the next one.

And this affects church. Even though we have the coffee ready before church (to reward those who come to Sunday School), most people would show up with their DD in hand. We now buy the beans from Dunks and brew our own. I’m tempted to place a sign outside the church stating: “Now serving Dunkin Donuts,” or possibly changing the name of the church to Dunkin Congregational.

Theologically, the Seven Sacraments of Congregationalism are: Baptism, Communion, and five cups of coffee. It’s our “holy water”.

Every morning (6 am) I hang out at a local coffee shop (Panera, sorry, not DD) with a bunch of guys where we solve all the worlds problems and get caffeinated. One of our regulars forgot his wallet recently, which was excusable; how can anyone be responsible for anything B.C. (Before Coffee)?
As I prepare for worship, a local FM station plays a different Bach Cantata every Sunday morning, which has become part of my routine. Bach was my kind of guy. While nearly all his choral works are sacred, he wrote a cantata in praise of coffee. Knowing a bit of German, it’s even funnier hearing the singers exult over the joy of “kaffee”. One of the arias says, “Ei! wie schmeckt der kaffee süsse, lieblicher als tausend Küsse.” Translated: “Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses.”

Surprisingly, even though coffee’s my favored beverage, I don’t over-do it. Two cups in the morning, and one after dinner is my rule, and it’s enough. I worked with a Major in the Army who was rushed to the hospital one day; he’d been drinking 15 cups a day. I think he asked for coffee in his IV. I also knew a soldier who, when it wasn’t possible to brew coffee in field operations, would take the instant coffee packet in his MRE and fold it in his lower lip (like Copenhagen)…pretty gross and hard-core. But if you don’t drink coffee in the military you can lose your security clearance.

I hope there’s coffee in Heaven. Part of “the fellowship of the saints” should be sitting around in a celestial coffee shop, talking over deep theological issues, and having a prayer together over a heavenly cup of coffee.

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