This article is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog on Missional Spirituality for the month of February. MennoNerds is exploring through this event Spirituality through an Anabaptist lens and what it means concerning participation in the mission of God.
One fine evening about a year ago, my wife and I went to a coffee cupping hosted at my father in laws coffee shop in Hope, British Columbia. A coffee cupping is an event where you taste all sorts of different coffees from all over the world. Some ‘out of season’ some ‘in season’ and others just pure ‘garbage’ all in an effort to develop a taste palette for coffee. The process was simple:
- Someone poured three different types of coffee into three different cups.
- We had to let the coffee sit for a while. While the coffee was sitting, the coffee guru would let us know the temperature at which the coffee was brewed, how it was roasted, and where it came from.
- After we let the coffee sit. We were instructed to put some coffee in the spoon provided and slurp it into our mouths.
- The slurping was intentional because it somehow exposed all the ‘taste’ that the coffee had to offer.
- We were then instructed to swish it around in our mouths acquiring the full flavour of the coffee.
- While we were swishing the coffee around in our mouths, the coffee guru guy was leading us through the language used in the coffee world to describe what we were tasting.
- After swishing it around for a while, we would spit it out into another cup, writing down on the paper what we tasted. As silly as it sounds, it was like a relationship was forming between me and the coffee swishing around in my mouth. I was getting to know it. Understanding the nuances of what made it different from other coffee. Ultimately, I was deciding if I liked it or not.
- After drinking a little bit of water to get rid of the taste, we would start all over again with another type of coffee.
My caffeine buzz, and the grossness of my “spit cup” increased significantly during the evening. Yet, a midst the buzz and cup full of coffee and saliva, I found myself shocked at my seemingly new found superpower which enabled me the ability to describe what I was tasting. It opened up a whole new world of coffee flavour for me. You see, before this cupping, I used coffee purely as a desperate “keep awake” beverage. I never really knew the difference between good coffee and bad coffee. Nor did I care.
At the base of any mountainous venture wherein we decide that participating with God, that is, to embody the pursuit of shalom in each our own particular time and place requires us know where it is we actually find ourselves. We need to understand it. We need to know what makes it tick. We need to know it’s beauty. We need to know the defining ugliness, and places for redemption. There are nuances all over each our own localities which are definitive. A missional, Anabaptist spirituality cannot be separated from the specific people and the specific place.
The daring life of Jesus in 1st century Palestine thrusts upon us an example of locality. Eugene Peterson famously reminds us that in the message, “Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood.” Jesus was the incarnate, the Son of a shalom seeking God who walked in a particular time, and a particular place. We, Anabaptists as a people, Jesus centric, shalom seeking in character formed by a God of peace would be remiss if we did not follow the missional impulse of that God into the rhythms of life in our specific place.
There are many good lists, made by many people much smarter than I which are helpful in facilitating a learning, and the “get to know you” of a local context (here is one). But what I have found to be more important than the core practicalities is this; seek to understand the rhythm of life. It’s kinda like a good cup of coffee. A good cup of coffee has lots going for it. The right temperature in which it is brewed, the proper bean at the right season of the year, the ethical way in which it was produced and bought, all of which craft a rhythm full of different parts which come together as if ordained on the way to brewing an amazing cup. A cup of coffee which you get to know. But, just don’t spit it out. You only do that at coffee cuppings. And don’t ruin it with cream or sugar. Keep it black.
So, to understand the rhythm of a context means you don’t always create. Join. Be okay with being a guest (another post for later I think), learn from others about where you are all the while being grounded spiritually with a God whom you know gives a “darn” about the place in which you find yourself at that particular moment. You will begin to understand all the important parts. You will then find yourself navigating the collision between your local context and the vision God has for… your local context.
So remember. Anabaptist spirituality is like a good cup of coffee. It’s a wonder why we don’t serve it for communion. (*Drops mic, walks away).
How would you describe the rhythm of life in your local context? How do you like your coffee?