Does Your Altar Need a Cupholder?

This morning, as I sorted through the myriad things my son had piled upon the table that serves as my altar, I found myself pouting over the fact that the small quilt that I use to cover my altar doesn’t make for a very steady surface on which to set my narrow-bottomed, 16-ounce-holding coffee cup.

And then it hit me — coffee cup??? I’m worried about a place to set my coffee cup? I need to bring my coffee cup to prayer??  I know I’m a Starbucks-drinking* kinda girl, but seriously, aren’t I a liturgy-loving, experience-submersing, spirituality-seeking kinda gal even more? I need coffee in my hand at every moment?

Shame on me! Aren’t I the one that (quietly and to myself) makes fun of the “Sunday is Supposed to be Entertainment” kinda Christians that meet in a movie theater and have an espresso machine out front so they can have a little Christ with their coffee … and all the while I’m also secretly envying the fact that they not only get to take their coffee into worship service, but get GOOD coffee too!**

And then my mind wanders down the aisle of a movie theater and I see cup holders.

“Cup holders! Maybe my altar needs a cup holder!” I thought, momentarily delighted with my own cleverness.

And then I gave myself a little mental shake. Heaven help me.

But then, a few moments later, as I opened A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings by Coleman Barker, I read:

I reach for a piece of wood. It turns into a lute.
I do some meanness. It turns out helpful.
I say one must not travel during the holy month.
Then I start out, and wonderful things happen.

And I am reminded of the passage of scripture that talks about the eating of the meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10. I am not a biblical scholar, nor am I an expert on situational ethics, but I do know that (for at least this moment right now***) I don’t feel good about bringing my coffee into worship service. But I also think that I should feel just fine about other people doing it.****

Learning to let go of the “rules” and instead just holding on to Jesus sometimes feels a bit like letting go of a rope and free-falling into the unknown.

______________________

*I’m actually a Santa Lucia gal!

**I’m sorry, people of St. Timothy, but our coffee is HORRIBLE!!! And I don’t care how thick the Father thinks we need to have it that bargain basement coffee <shudder> I’m about to stage a Coffee Coo while I’m still on vestry.

***Which leaves the door open for discussion or for me to change my mind in the future.

****In their own church. I don’t think I’m ready to let go entirely, you can have your coffee in YOUR church sanctuary, not mine. Yes, I understand that I’m not necessarily making much sense.

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~ by Kimberly Mason on January 10, 2011.

8 Responses to “Does Your Altar Need a Cupholder?”

  1. Coffee in the sanctuary? Could never happen in an Episcopal church. We need both hands for the hymnal and prayer book…unless it is an evangelical parish and they need their hands for praise!

  2. I’m sitting here at my computer nodding my head at your words, while sipping my latte:) I do bring my coffee into my God Room in the early morning. God knows I’m not much of a conversationalist w/o it…and that arrangement works for us. I’m delighted that you are reassessing your grip on your cup of joe and finding what makes you more present to the presence of the Divine. And I love the photo of your altar.

    • As I went to morning prayer, after writing the post, I ended up taking my coffee with me, and I don’t think God minded at all. But I think that (after reading your comment) my focus should be less on what I am bringing to the altar with me and more about “reassessing [my] grip” on my cuppa joe and anything else I bring with me — whether materially, mentally or spiritually. Perhaps an extension of the uncluttering of my living space that I have been doing recently, giving up things I thought I needed, when in actuality I don’t.

      Thank you for your kind words and the re-focus! 🙂

  3. When I was in high school my church split and the new church met briefly in a hotel conference room. The highlight was being able to get hot chocolate and take it in the room with me! I suggest a nice coaster with a meaningful design to stabilize the coffee on the altar!

  4. My last church (Episcopal) had a few folks who always brought their coffee. I brought in my water bottle a couple of times when I was battling a cough because it helped keep me quiet. My current church (Episcopal) doesn’t have anyone who brings coffee to the service, but when we have choir practice after church we sometimes bring our coffee hour snacks into the choir loft. I know – terrible!

    Here’s the solution for you (except you probably don’t need the scrap catcher :)): http://cgi.ebay.com/Creative-Memories-Side-Kick-Cup-Holder-Scrap-Catcher-/140498436264?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20b65c00a8.

  5. If God didn’t love us and want us to be happy he wouldn’t have created coffee. I say drink coffee in your holy space, what better opportunity to give thanks to God for its goodness!

    Suggest Bishop’s Blend to replace the coffee at Church. It’s a tad pricey, but it’s fair trade, and I think 15% of the purchase price goes to ERD. See how God even uses coffee to get us into ethical practices?

  6. I’m with Anne. Honestly, sometimes the coffee (and I know this sounds odd) can combine two wonderfully sensory things to create and even more meaningful experience? Take it with you, and as you sip and enjoy the wonderful aromatic taste and flavor, you may be opening yourself up to be even more present. :c) Hugs!

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