Last night we made beer. I joined two parishioners, Bridget and David, to discuss parish life. We needed to discuss an upcoming baptism. We needed to discuss spiritual life and prayer. We needed to discuss a gift they wanted to make to the Saint Francis Apartments for the formerly homeless.
While we sat and talked about the baptism candle, the responsibilities of Godparents, the logistics of the baptism service, the way children pray and a host of other things, we were making beer. Bridget was making a different beer with flower blossoms for its under-flavors – lavender, and some of the garden flowers currently in bloom. My recipe needed to be bold, so David helped me with a ginger and honey flavored beer, caramel and richly dark with many pounds of fresh ginger and rich honey for s strong finish- forty bottles of it.
We added ingredients, we stirred, we talked, we stirred, we strained and added yeast and stirred. Now it will ferment for a few weeks and in mid august we will bottle it all up in time for my birthday.
After a long and wonderful night of conversation and beer-making we ate a meal together and then, the grains I used to start my beer (which I called “fred”) were scooped into bags for the 200 dog biscuits I made for Kai when I got home; using 16 cups of warm, crushed grains, still warm from beer-making.
This was the very best of ordained ministry. a long evening – no rush, young people giving generously or time and money to fuel the mission of the church. Laughter and beer, stories and Jesus, mission and church, baptism and inner city crime, homelessness and diapers. This is why I was ordained to the priesthood – to sit with people and hear their story and tell mine – being in com-union. Smiles were warm, the evening cool, the beer in rolling boils as the chemistry of nature worked its miracles. And all the while The Holy Spirit flitting about creating a hole friendship.
Here is Bridget’s recipe for dog biscuits made from used beer (about half of one beer batch of forty bottles):
8 cups warm grains after making beer
4 cups flour
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1/2 cups of vegetable oil
massage with hands and spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and cut into small squares. Let cool, separate squares onto two rimmed cookies sheets and remake for 4.5 hours at 225 degrees until absolutely crips and completely dry. Serve when dogs sit. Or roll over.