Some of my greatest memories in life have been tied to coffee. I met my wife at a coffee shop. I’ve had many fruitful and uplifting conversations that took place while drinking a cup of Joe. I can recall nights sitting outside, in the midst of a Louisville winter, roasting coffee so that I would have something that would keep me awake the next time my newborn daughter woke up. Coffee gets my day going, when I encounter the “Monday Blues”. Coffee is my midday break that restores my sanity. To say that I love coffee may be an understatement.
Several years back I read an interesting blog post that caused me to think about my coffee habit differently. Sandra McCrackin, a musical artist, described her regular habit of drinking tea by saying,
And I daresay that tea, in its proper form, can be a kind of spiritual liturgy as well. Bringing the water to a full boil, setting out the china, the cups and saucers, tiny silver spoons, whole milk, honey, and often biscuits or cookies is important just because it is beautiful and good to do so. It slows me down. Clears my head. It makes space for thought and conversation right there in the middle of a busy day.
Understanding the beauty of her comment, calls for an understanding of liturgy. Liturgy is the formula or structure through which worship is conducted. Many people wrongfully tie the idea of liturgy to an “old, boring, and dry” worship service. When people describe liturgy in this fashion, what they are truly expressing is not a problem with liturgy itself, but a problem with terrible/boring worship services. I too have a problem with terrible and boring worship services. Others may critique liturgy by saying that it “hinders or restricts the Spirit’s work in a worship service.” To this idea, I would respond that the Spirit works consistently within His own character. This is the way in which the Spirit has been working since creation.
When God created the world, it was without form and void. Creation is initially described as chaotic. God then took the chaos and brought structure to it. This idea of God bringing structure and form to all of reality began at creation. This “bringing to order” motif is carried on throughout the rest of scripture as well. God gives instructions and order to Noah for building the Ark. God later would give instruction and order for the Israelites for building the temple and how its services should be ran. God is a God of order. He takes the chaotic and brings order and beauty to them. Greg Beale is very helpful at pulling this motif out from scripture. Beale describes the God, who brings all things to order when he says,
“Just as God had achieved heavenly rest after overcoming creational chaos and constructing the beginning of his creational temple, so Adam presumably would achieve unending rest after overcoming the opposition of the serpent and the opposing temptation to sin and extending the boundaries of the glorious Eden temple around the entire earth. This also finds an important analogy later with David, who cannot build the temple because although he had achieved rest by overcoming outside enemies, there were still internal forces of opposition that were suppressed only after his death. Thus, Solomon built the temple because all enemies, both outside and within Israel, had been conquered for a period. At this time, God is said to have found rest in the holy of holies of the temple because all his earth enemies, who also were Israel’s enemies, had been defeated.”
God conquers the chaotic, brings about order, and then He establishes rest. What does this chaos and life of un-orderliness look like after creation? Shortly after everything was created the serpent enters the picture and disrupts order and brings about chaos. God then makes a promise to Eve that one day the serpent would bruise the heel of her seed, but he (the promised seed) would crush the serpent’s head. Isaiah tells us a child who will be named Emmanuel, a seed from the stump of Jesse, one who the government will be upon his shoulder. Isaiah describes this child as one who would restore order. He will be the one who makes it so that the “lion will lie down with the lamb” and “the child at the den of vipers.” In order for this restoring of order to take place, God must once again conquer the chaos. Isaiah tells us how he will do this when he says,
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
This messiah would be bruised for our iniquities, but he would conquer (crush the head of) the serpent and restore all that was lost at the Garden of Eden. Christ conquered sin and all His enemies this resulted in the bringing about the long awaited rest. All those who are in Christ, have been delivered from sin and Satan. Those who are in Christ have conquered the enemy and are promised this same rest in Christ.
You may be asking, “What does this have to do with my morning coffee?” You had me at “joe”, but then, “where did you go?” Paul tells us “whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” How is it that you can glorify God with your coffee? When you sit down for you morning or afternoon brew, allow it to be a reminder of the God who brings order. Make you regular cup of joe a “spiritual liturgy” for your life. In the midst of a chaotic day and the busyness of life, take a moment to pause and find rest in the God, who conquers all His enemies and brings you into His eternal rest. When you wake up and realize that your children have destroyed your house and you feel defeated, sit down with your morning cup and reflect upon the God who brings order out the chaos, the God who conquers his enemies and brings about rest. Sit down and reflect upon Christ. God is restoring all things under the headship of Christ (Eph 1). Because of the death of Christ, all will be re-ordered and the Lion will once again lie down with the lamb. So, are you tired and heavy laden? Have yourself a latte and a lotta Jesus.