Saturday, December 23, 2006

Pubs & Bars in a Season of Immanuel

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (slapping my hands to my face as Macaulay Culkin did in Home Alone)!!!

I am here all by myself in the dorms. There is no one left here. I have not spoken to a single person face to face today. I have enjoyed me time alone. I have watched Superman Returns and am set to watch A Scanner Darkly or the New Orleans Bowl. Currently I am listening to the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty with a Double Gulp of Crush and 7up. I am content. I am calm. I am rested.

I got to thinking about the holiday season and how I have spent it over the last few years. There was last year here in the dorms alone and hanging out at the local pub for 8 consecutive days. There was the time I spent in Mombasa. Where I got sick and had to stay in bed back in Nairobi dreaming of home for the holidays. There were the years spent motoring back and forth between my mom and dad and those long days on the highways of Southern California. I did have a tradition of going to the Frolic Room for Christmas Eve for some time.

It was this tradition that provided the images of guys with clipper ship tattoos on their forehead, women dressed like flappers, a drunken large man crowned with a Santa hat, and the other lonely drones crowded into that small dank space on Hollywood Boulevard. I loved going there. I loved going there on Christmas Eve even more. There was a strong sense of shame and desperation present on this night. The over all feel was one of escape.

I have always been draw to pubs and bars. Is it the raw emotion that clings to the walls? Is it the normality given to the filth we all have staining our emperors cloak? I love the anonymity that is offered there if needed or wanted. I love the shared enjoyment and embrace of ones finitude. It is in these moments I feel close to creation and close to its creator. The pub and bars of this world have become my worship space. It is in these dens of double bock debauchery that I witness Immanuel.

I see Jesus in the face of the drunken returned Marine seeking forgiveness for the people he has shoot at and killed. I see Jesus in the eyes of that disheveled old man not wanting to be alone sitting at the end of the bar with the only “family” he has. I see Jesus in the woe of the young men and women that fear the worst and drown their fear absent of hope. I see Jesus in the mods and hippies that invite the smelly homeless man to their table to share a beer. I witness Jesus in the conversations I have had over the last few years. The men and women that seek understanding of salvation. The desire for hope and a peaceful world. The mistrust in a religious machine that has left them in the cold.

I love being a part of the margin. I trust in God and have faith that Jesus Christ is all the sacrifice I will ever need. I love that I have been blessed to be sent to this mission field. I see that it takes all kinds to serve in ministry. The prevailing culture has written off most of these folks. If not they have written themselves off. Jesus never gives up. Jesus loves them, every single one.

It is this Spirit of compassion, hope, and love that is important to me during this season. The Christmas season does not consist of a single glorious moment of arrival and gift giving. Nor is it subjugated to a consumer free for all. In Jesus’ birth we are presented with a hope and reconciled to God in the flesh of Christ. His birth is our birth. There is no checklist to plug in to it. The only requisite is that you be yourself as made. God will do the rest. Return to the dark recesses of your heart and embrace the pain, hurt, isolation, and loneliness there. Have courage this season to be you, to love you, to love others. It is here you will encounter Jesus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective on a lost and hurting world in need of a savior. That's quite a ministry.

Over 25% of all households are single person residences so there are always such people. It is good that you see them through the eyes of compassion. You seem to be very comfortable with being alone and quite capable of finding others if you want to.