In praise of breakfast

These technologies, whether from the Space program or the Manhattan project, fail to attend to our essential sacramental nature or at least the appeal of sacramental action in our lives. Breakfast is more than nutrition. Breakfast coffee is more than a stimulant. One of the glories of Christianity is the sense that God comes to us most profoundly in common ways—eating , drinking, washing, etc. The beauty of this idea is appealing even to atheists who deny its source.

Consider how coffee was made prior to the microwave. The percolator slowly and methodically brewed the coffee while a group of needy morning-risers gathered around it. There was a bit of conversation around the pot. Hands could be warmed on the pot as it brewed. Nowadays, though, coffee is pre-dripped from a timer while we are in the snooze cycle of the alarm clock. We zap it individually as needed before leaving the kitchen. What a loss.

A Lutheran church I have attended in Southern New York illustrates the importance of coffee preparation and its sacramental dimension. In this parish, a large urn sits in the narthex. It is plugged in at the start of the service. During the service of the Word, the low rumble of the pot can be heard in silent moments. By the time the Sacramental liturgy has begun, the rumble is loud enough to compete with the Preface, or better, seems to speak back to the liturgist in responsorial fashion. As the communicants approach the rail, the smell of coffee wafts through the sanctuary. The actual drinking of the coffee after service then has a genuine connection to the sacramental action of the church. The meaning of the coffee would be different if a soundless Mr. Coffee were plugged in at some point, or worse, if people used Keurig machines to manufacture their individual cups after church.