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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent, Beer and Room at the Inn

What does Advent mean for a man who is losing his business?

Mike is sitting across the aisle and a row or two up from me in church. I can just see him out of the corner of my eye as I look up to the pulpit. As the preacher begins his sermon, I find myself hoping that something he said will be of comfort to Mike. I want to freeze the action, walk up to the pulpit and whisper in the preacher’s ear: “Mike is having a rough week. Not sure if you were planning John the Baptist, or prophets today, but Mike could really use some words of comfort.”

I talked with Mike briefly before the service, and I had seen the articles in the paper earlier that week. I knew that the small, organic brewery that bore his name was going to be sold to a larger company. Mike told me that this information had been leaked prematurely, so he hadn’t been able to talk to his employees in advance. They found out that their company was being sold by reading the same morning paper that I did. I knew that this was not a “win-win” sale, but one borne of economic necessity. I knew Mike’s own future was uncertain. I knew that this caring business man who had worked hard to tend to multiple bottom lines, was hurting. Does the pastor know this? Will he say the right words?

Midway through the sermon, I have my own epiphany. I’m sitting here hoping the preacher will say something of comfort to Mike. I want him to fix it. But what about me? What is my role? What can I do?

Now as I’m listening to the sermon, I begin to pray for Mike… “Spirit, connect the words of the sermon with Mike’s need. Nudge me if there is something I can do for him, some way to be Christ’s hands and feet as he navigates the complicated path he walks in these next few weeks.”

I am not exactly sure what the meaning of advent is to a man who is losing the business he has lovingly tended for many years. But as the sermon winds to a close, in my mind’s eye I see Mike walking alongside Mary, Joseph and the donkey. He too is weary and discouraged. He too needs room at the inn.

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