January 14, 2024
The following may or may not be a true story. There was a foursome at the golf course who walked on together for an afternoon of golf. None of them knew each other prior to this event. One was a senior Pastor and another was a somewhat cocky younger man. The other two men had retired from the work force and golf was part of their retirement regimen.
At a short par 3, the Pastor asks the young man, “What club are you going to use on this hole? The young man replied, "An 8-iron, Pastor. How about you?” The Pastor says, “I'm going to hit a soft seven and pray. The young man hits his 8-iron and puts the ball on the green. The Pastor tops his 7-iron and dribbles the ball out a few yards from the tee. The young man says, "I don't know about you, Pastor, but at my church, when we pray, we keep our head down.”
We are definitely getting a good dose of winter here in the midwest. I measured 12 inches of snow in my backyard with my tape measure last week and after that we got another inch or two and the day after that about six inches to top off the previous 14, along with 35 mph winds. My dad always said the third week of January is always the most intense as far as the weather is concerned. It looks like he’s right again - right on time for a week of -10, -13, and -14 degrees. If you like this weather - more power to you. If you live somewhere else - enjoy. Winter is here. A friend sent me a message that said: “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, but still the same amount of snow.” Good words.
These are good days for memories as we accomplish the tasks at hand. My grandpa was a coffee drinker. He always had a thermos of hot coffee in his car. He drank it with breakfast and lunch. He liked it black and strong. When I was a kid, he always gave me sips of his coffee but I can’t say I ever liked it. The finer things of life take some getting used to, I guess, because now that I’m grandpa’s age, I like coffee. Our daughter taught us how to appreciate coffee shops too. When we go to see her in Nashville, we always frequent her favorite places - which are not the franchise joints, but rather, the mom and pop shops.
So it was only natural when, back here at home, when we needed to go to Madison one day we allowed extra time and took the back roads and found a quaint little coffee shop in one of the small towns along the way. If I had to make a claim, I would say that Main street America is alive and well again after the big box stores moved our small towns to the outskirts. After we realized what was happening, our local chambers of commerce got together and incentivized and our locals reinvented our downtowns. Now, in most every small town one can find many locally owned businesses and especially a quaint, little coffee and donut shop.
And so, one day last summer, feeling adventurous, my wife and I randomly picked out a town, took a road trip, and found a coffee shop and enjoyed a cup of their finest. Then, late last fall I proposed to her that she come with me on a hospital call and we would revisit that same coffee shop. She is always ready for an adventure and quickly set her days activities aside and joined me on our back roads tour of the countryside. But to our disappointment, upon our arrival, we found that the shop was closed for the day. But not to be discouraged, we drove around the town and discovered another coffee shop a little further down Main Street. We went inside and found a warm and cozy establishment with some really, really good coffee. It was so good, that after we finished drinking what they served us, we took a bag of it home to enjoy later. That is now our special, go-to coffee when we feel like treating ourselves. As my brother-in-law so aptly stated one time: “You can’t drink Folgers everyday.”
At church, every Sunday we make two large pots of coffee that hold 45 cups each. In addition, there’s about a half dozen of us or so, who get there early every week to open up, turn on the lights, set the thermostats, and make the coffee. It’s dark outside when we get there and it seems we keep getting there earlier and earlier. And we’re not there just to tend to the responsibilities - we are there for the coffee and the camaraderie. While we’re waiting on the big pots to perk, we make a couple of little pots in the Bunn coffee makers. And we went from 10 ounce coffee cups, to the 12 ounce cups, to the 20 ounce cups. And now, different ones have started bringing their favorite coffees to share with the rest of us. If you thought church was fun, this just adds to it. By the time the regular crowd arrives, we are hitting on all eight cylinders.
Proverbs 10:22 says “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” I think one of those blessings is a rich cup of coffee.
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).