Day 16: Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge

About the Beer: Tyranena Brewery is located between Milwaukee and Madison, in the small town of Lake Mills. Tonight we are drinking Rocky’s Revenge, a brown ale aged in oak barrels that give each batch its own unique flavor. It is named after an ancient creature, that as legend has it, prowls the depths of Rock Lake (originally called Tyranena by the original inhabitants) and protects the sacred stone mounds at its bottom. The brewers have made this beer as an offering to the protector of Tyranena.

Advent Reflection: Tonight’s reading is a well-known passage from the Gospel of Luke focusing on Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel. After you read, gaze at the picture and read the beautiful poem that is a reflection on the Luke passage.

Luke 1:26-38
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Annunciation
by Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
            Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.
       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
       God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

                        ____________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.
More often
those moments
            when roads of light and storm
            open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                    God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

                        ____________________

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
  only asked
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
                                    Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,
                                    Spirit,
                                          suspended
                                                               waiting.

                        ____________________

She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                                            raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                                    consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                                    and the iridescent wings.
Consent,
              courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly. 

Day 15: Dogfish Head Midas Touch

About the Beer: Dogfish Head Brewery is located in Milton, Delaware. Dogfish Head is known for making inventive beers, and releasing those beers in a themed series! Midas Touch is the first beer in their Ancient Ales series. This sweet yet dry beer is made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between beer, wine, and mead, Midas will please the Chardonnay and beer drinker alike! For more information on Dogfish Head brewery check out there website: dogfish.com.

Each Beer Advent I make sure to include a beer from Dogfish Head. Dogfish is my favorite brewery…hands down. Part of it is nostalgia, as I have great memories drinking their inventive (weird) beers, part of it is that I really like their beer, and the other part is that I greatly appreciate their motto: “Off-centered beer for off-centered people”. Regardless, enjoy tonight’s Ancient Ale and remember that beer is an ancient drink!

Advent Reflection: Growing up as an evangelical I have never had much of a study or focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She certainly plays a huge role in our Christian faith and is key to the Nativity Story. I greatly appreciate this reflection from Fr. Richard Rohr in “Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent”.

We tend to manage life more than just live it. We are all overstimulated and drowning in options. We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That is what built our culture. It is not all bad, but if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it is pure heresy. It is wrong. It doesn’t work. It is not gospel. We might be economically rich but not rich spiritually. If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She is probably the perfect image of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world.

We can’t manage, maneuver or manipulate spiritual energy. It is a matter of letting go and receiving what is being given freely. It is the gradual emptying of our attachment to our small self so that there is room for a new conception and a new birth. There must be some displacement before there can be any new “replacement”. Mary is the archetype of such self-displacement and surrender. If Jesus is the symbol of the gift itself and how God gives the gift, then Mary is the symbol of how the gift is received and treasured. Whatever God gives is always experienced as totally unearned grace and never as a salary, a reward, or a merit badge of any sort. In fact, if you do experience it that way, it is not from God and will not expand your heart, mind, or soul.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state. If we ourselves try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ but only ourselves. Mary does not manage, fix, control or ‘perform’ in any way. She just says, “yes!”

Day 14: Lake Louie Warped Speed

About the Beer: Tonight’s beer is brewed in the classic scotch ale style of the 1700′s, with a deep reddish-brown color. Full of body, sweetness & flavor, with a smooth, lightly hopped finish. Serve at 45°F in a room temperature pint glass. Cheers!

Advent Reflection: This Advent season has been one where I honestly have had to embrace the darkness. In doing so, I have been in a continual state of worry. Worried and anxious about the discontent I feel at work. Worried and anxious about the state of my marriage. Worried and anxious about where I am as a father and how I’m providing for my family. There seems to be so many things that run through my mind and heart continually and I feel so unable to carry them, much less process them. This too, leaves me feeling worried and anxious. Tonight’s Scripture reading and reflection particularly hit close to home. The devotion is taken from “The Advent Project” ccca.biola.edu.

Blessings on your night and I pray that you will be filled with God’s peace!

Philippians 4: 4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.

MAKING ROOM FOR CHRIST’S PERFECT PEACE

God’s peace is not given to the peaceful. Rest is reserved only for the tired and troubled. These conditions, however, are usually the last things that we want to admit about ourselves. We hope that God might not see us as exhausted and as anxious as we secretly know that we are. Despite our best efforts, however, he knows. He sees us as we are and moves toward us in grace. God’s peace meets us in the blur, in the noise, and in the unease.

Indeed, Christ’s word of peace is only a word for those who worry and those who ache. It’s for those who are unable to avoid the grief they feel or cover over the emptiness that sorrow has hollowed out inside of them. Christ seeks out this emptiness carved out by loss and hurt, because it’s the holy place where God intends to meet with us. In fact, he has allowed us to experience this depleting sorrow for exactly this reason. To fill up our emptiness with himself. As hard as it may be to believe, God permits this hollowing out just so there’s more room within us for his peace. So, stop and receive it as such. Just pause before your own emptiness and wait. Don’t be tempted to feel the need to do something with it. If at all possible, let it be; so that patience with the pain can become, quite simply, a portal for God’s peace.

Advent invites us to a deeper waiting, and as often as not, Advent’s waiting will not be quiet, calm, or nice. Waiting demands patience, and we have precious little to spare. But Christ’s peace is already ours, especially when we know ourselves to be anything but quiet, calm, or nice. We long for the peace “which transcends all understanding,” but we don’t really know what that looks like. Perhaps, that kind of peace is just the patience of trusting Christ’s own words that, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Trust that the good that God can do with our patience is far more beautiful than anything we could achieve on our own. Patience is all he asks today, because patience makes room for Christ’s perfect peace.

Day 12: New Glarus Belgian Red

About the Beer: Tonight marks the halfway point of Beer Advent. I hope that you have enjoyed the beer thus far, but more importantly, I hope that you have been able to slow down, reflect, and wait in anticipation! Also, I’d love to know which of the sours you fancied? (Should we keep sours on the calendar for the future?)

Now for tonight’s selection! Our beer tonight is found ‘ONLY IN WISCONSIN’ (your welcome Illinois participants!). New Glarus Belgian Red has over a pound of Door County Cherries in every bottle and is a beautiful marriage of wine and beer! This ale is brewed with whole Montmorency Cherries, Wisconsin Farmed Wheat and Belgian Roasted Barleys, lagered in oak tanks and balanced by Hallertau hops that have been aged at New Glarus Brewery one full year.

Tonight’s beer will pour ruby red. It is highly carbonated and will have an intense cherry flavor and bouquet. Make sure to pour this Belgian in a snifter or champagne flute in order to enhance the aromas.

As you drink, toast to life, especially life in Wisconsin! And remember New Glarus’s motto: “Drink Indigenous”

Advent Reflection: This is another reflection from the Christianity Today Advent booklet that I found particularly poignant. Before you read the devotion, take some time to read Matthew 4:1-17 and Isaiah 9:1-2

“‘On those living in the land of thee shadow of death a light has dawned’. From that time on Jesus began to preach.” – Matthew 4:16-17

“The theme of dawn appears often in the Old Testament. We read: “God will help her at the break of day (Psalm 46:5) and “I wait for the LORD more than the watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). Dawn represented the time of God’s rescue. At dawn, God would redeem His people from all their sins and restore justice to the world.

So when Matthew describes Jesus’ ministry as fulfilling Isaiah’s pronouncement that “a light has dawned“, he is presenting Jesus as the realization of Israel’s ancient longing for divine deliverance. The prophets of old — not just people in his own time like John the Baptist — had testified to Jesus as the true Light. The hopes of the past culminate in Christ!

Dawn also points toward the future. It begins a new day. By naming Jesus as Isaiah’s promised dawn right as He begins His preaching ministry, Matthew builds anticipation for what lies ahead: Jesus’ whole life will be a fulfillment of what God has promised. Jesus will bring sight to the blind, justice for the oppressed, and freedom for the captive (Isaiah 61:1). He will teach us what salvation means by showing us the health and wholeness of a life lived in pure love and devotion to God and others. In Jesus, we will see the true light and life that we long for.” – Han-Luen Kantzer Komline

Day 11: O’So Infectious Groove

About the Beer: Tonight’s libation comes to us from O’so Brewing Company located in Plover, WI. Their mission is to create wild and delicious beers that Wisconsin has never seen, and to use almost entirely Wisconsin grown ingredients in the process. Tonight’s wild beer is Infectious Groove, a Kettle-Sour Blonde Ale that resembles a tart Berliner Weisse. It is refreshingly tart with a lightly dry finish, and checking in at only 3.9% ABV this is our “weakest” beer of the calendar. For more information on O’so Brewing Company, check out their website: osobrewing.com

Advent Reflection: We focused earlier this week on a devotion about the importance of John the Baptist. Tonight’s reflection is another devotion focusing on John. It is adapted from a Christianity Today Advent devotional booklet.

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John…He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” John 1:6, 8

“More than any other biblical character, John the Baptist embodies the spirit of Advent. This was a man whose lifework was to prepare the way for Christ’s coming by bearing witness to him. One might think intimate ties to the Messiah somehow prepared John for this starring role in the church calendar. He was a relative of the Lord, marked out as special from the beginning. He greeted the Savior from the womb and was foretold by the prophets. John was an important man from a family of spiritual influence. Perhaps this suited him for service as “witness to the light” (John 1:8).

Yet the portrait of him the Gospel of John pays little attention to these factors. Difference and distance from God, more than family ties and proximity, are its focus. True, John the Baptist was sent from God to be a witness to the light. But this did not require that he match the greatness of the One he represented. The gospel writer emphasizes just the reverse: “He himself was not the light” (v. 8). John the Baptist dims in comparison with Christ, “the true light that gives light” to all (v. 9). For all his noteworthy qualifications, John merely reflected the radiance of the Lord.

This contrast comes through as well in Isaiah 40, which points toward the “voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God'” (v. 3). Someone regal is about to arrive. But, like a page running before an approaching sovereign, the one announcing the monarch’s advent need not be royalty. In fact, the messenger’s relative insignificance only lends urgency to the message: “GET READY FOR THE KING!” John the Baptist’s motto was: I must decrease and he must increase (John 3:30).

It can be easy to despair of or qualifications for testifying to Christ. But the Gospel of John reminds us that we don’t need to be perfect, particularly “special” by human standards, or part of some exclusive spiritual club to bear witness effectively. Acknowledging our own limitations — that we are different from the glorious One who Advent we are proclaiming — only throws Christ’s glory into greater relief. Night has fallen. Our world needs true Light. – Han-Luen Kantzer Komline

Day 10: Mobcraft Low pHunk

About the Beer: For the next two days we will be diving into the Sours. Sours are unique beers that often get overlooked in people’s choice of beer. The reason for placing them on the calendar next to each other is for you to get a taste of different styles and then compare which one you liked better. Hopefully you finish them 🙂

Tonight our beer is from Mobcraft Brewery located in Milwaukee, WI. Mobcraft is famous for creating what they call “crowdsourced beer.” This means that they let people suggest what styles, flavors, or types of beer they create. Located in the Walker’s Point Neighborhood of Milwaukee, Mobcraft is an awesome place to stop in for a drink (especially in the summer). Tonight we are drinking their take on a sour ale called Low pHunk. Low pHunk is refreshingly tart with hints of Belgian esters (according to their website). If you are interested in learning more, or have some crazy beer flavor/style ideas, check out Mobcrafts website: mobcraftbeer.com

Advent Reflection: Take some time tonight to sit and reflect on something good in your life. Take some time to thank God that even in the midst of ‘sour’ situations or circumstances, there is still good!

Day 9: Snow Pilot

About the Beer:
Snow Pilot is brewed by Point Brewery located in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin. Point Brewery was built and brewed their first beer in 1857, and have been brewing great beer ever since(except during prohibition, which is when they started brewing craft sodas). One of their claims to fame is providing beer to soldiers during the Civil War! Point brewery has a very personal connection to one of our fellow Beer Adventers this year. Garrett Shibilski’s grandfather, Kenneth Shibilski was the owner and operator of the brewery from 1982-1993. Back to the beer! Snow Pilot is a handcrafted brown ale brewed with savory crushed pistachio nuts, a perfect beer to enjoy as the weather starts to get colder

Advent Reflection: This devotion is from “The Advent Project” which is created by a ministry of Biola University called CCCA (Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts).

CHRISTMAS PROPHECIES OF PEACE
Scripture: Luke 1: 68-79, Luke 2:14
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is well-pleased.

Poetry:
Poem 50 (“I lost my way, I forgot …”)
from “Book of Mercy”
by Leonard Cohen

I lost my way, I forgot to call on your name. The raw heart beat against the world, and the tears were for my lost victory. But you are here. You have always been here. The world is all forgetting, and the heart is a rage of directions, but your name unifies the heart, and the world is lifted into its place. Blessed is the one who waits in the traveller’s heart for his turning.

CHRISTMAS PROPHECIES OF PEACE

As we amble on towards Christmas, today’s devotional selections call us to consider how we search and wait for Christ. They have in common the notion that we are wanderers, searching for the paths of peace. 

But what does it mean to wander? And what might wandering have to do with peace? We might quickly think of wandering as aimlessness, of someone who has lost their way, perhaps even hopelessness. But today’s scripture, art, and poetry evoke a different sort of wandering: a leisurely searching, a focused exploration. 

Luke gives us prophecies of rescued wanderers who are guided onto the paths of peace. The visual art is a modern icon depicting the wandering messenger St. John the Forerunner. The poem is a modern Psalm spoken by a wanderer who realizes he is not alone and learns to trust that each step is guided.

In each, we might say that the wanderers have been rescued, set secure on their path of seeking. And for us, they become trailblazers. Their wandering becomes pilgrimage, intent towards their hope and final home. 

Those who wander in this way have open eyes, ears, and hearts. Light shines in the darkness, and they quickly move toward it. Birds sing and they stop to listen. Heart shudders and they turn around. Wandering in this way provides a kind of presence, opening the senses in subtle ways so that response is free and nimble. Wanderers like this are willing to discover lots of things along the way, even as they keep journeying forward. 

John the Forerunner, as he wandered through the wilderness, always kept his eyes, ears, and heart open. He called others to join him in his steady attention: “Prepare the way for the Lord.” 

This call to repentance is, at its heart, a call to remember. It is a call to remember that we are always forgetting, that our hearts are a “rage of directions.” But there’s good news for the dull-sensed, aimless wanderers among us. John, the wandering trailblazer, the gaunt-winged messenger singing songs of repentance, was shown the path of peace. His steady wandering was rewarded with sight: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” 

Have you been an aimless wanderer? A hopeless wanderer? If so, can you open your eyes and heart to meander on this pilgrimage in a new way today? In this age of anxiety and overload, embrace a slow but steady certainty that you are guided. Take time to quiet your heart. God has always been here; are you able to listen?

Let’s ask God to incline our hearts to wander this way, toward the path of peace.

Day 8: Shiner Holiday Cheer

About the Beer:

When Robert and I started talking to the beer buyer at Otto’s (Yale) he immediately suggested Shiner Holiday Cheer, along with many other Christmas beers or winter seasonal. As we started to make the list, we kept removing it in favor of beers from local breweries. When we finally went in to finalize the list, Yale had put Shiner Holiday Cheer back on the list. When we asked him about it, he said that this is his favorite beer, and it was obvious then that we had to have it!

Since 1909, every drop of Shiner Beer has been brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery located in Shiner, Texas. Shiner Holiday Cheer is a traditional dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. It is a perfect beer to enjoy while sitting in front of a fire (or reflecting on an advent reading).  So here’s to hoping it lives up to the hype. Cheers to tonight’s beer and to Yale at Otto’s on Oakland!


You can learn more about Shiner Beers at their website: shiner.com

Advent Reflection: Today marks the beginning of week 2 of Advent. At church, and in the center of my dining room table, we will be lighting the 2nd candle. The anticipation and the waiting continues, but hope is building. This week’s Scriptures from the daily lectionary speak to this “coming hope”. You can find the Scriptures here: Psalm 72:1-7, Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12

This week’s Gospel reading focuses on the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord, John the Baptist and his fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3-5. The reflection below comes from Fr. Richard Rohr and his book “Preparing for Christmas”. I greatly appreciate this perspective. Cheers!

John the Baptist’s qualities are most rare and yet crucial for any reform or authentic transformation of persons or groups. That is why we focus on John the Baptist every Advent and why Jesus trusts him and accepts his non-temple, offbeat nature ritual, while also going far beyond him. Water is only the container; fire and Spirit are the contents, John says. Yet if we are not like the great John, we will invariably substitute our own little container for the real contents. We will substitute rituals for reality instead of letting the rituals point us beyond themselves.

John the Baptizer is the strangest combination of conviction and humility, morality and mysticism, radical prophecy and living in the present. This son of the priestly temple class does his own thing down by the riverside; he is a man born of privilege who dresses like a hippie; he is a superstar who is willing to let go of everything, creating his own water baptism and then saying that what really matters is the baptism of “Spirit and fire”! He is a living paradox, as even Jesus says of him: “There is no man greater than John…but he is also the least” in the new reality that I am bringing about (Matthew 11:11). John both gets it and does not get it at all, which is why he has to exit stage right early in the drama. He has played his single and important part, and he knows it. His is brilliantly a spirituality of descent, not ascent. “He must grow bigger, I must grow smaller” (John 3:30).

The only way such freedom can happen is if John learned to be very empty of himself already as a young man, before he even built his tower of success. His ego was out of the way so much so that he could let go of his own ego, his own message and even his own life. This is surely the real meaning of his head on a platter! Some have cleverly said that ego is an acronym for “Edging God Out”. There’s got to be such emptiness, or we cannot point beyond ourselves to Jesus, as John the Baptist did. Such emptiness doesn’t just fall into our laps; such humility does not just happen. It is surely the end product of a thousand letting-goes and a thousand acts of devotion, which for John the Baptist gradually edged God in.Fr. Richard Rohr “Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent”