Thursday, May 22, 2014

When things don't go the "right" way....


I have been brewing beer for just over a year now, working the "intro" side of the street. That means, basically, following a recipe using extracts augmented by "specialty" grains. In effect, it makes the preparation of the wort (the liquid comprised of water and sugars derived from malted grain) much easier than the "real" brewing that happens when you make the leap into what is called "all grain." All grain brewing is just that: you rely on mashing malted grains in hot water. Wort is then drawn off from the loose porridge, then recirculated through the grain bed in order to pull as much of the fermentable sugars into the solution as is possible. The better you are at that? Your "mash efficiency" is increased.

Like any stepped process, the chance for things to go wrong increases with the increasing complexity of the actions required. For an extract brewer, you just have to make sure you get all of the extracts into the kettle, avoid burning them, and maintain a weather eye on the kettle as the boil proceeds. With all grain, something that I am looking forward into attempting later this year, you can have a host of challenges...everything from having your mash in water too hot to a "stuck sparge" (where grains clog the drain tube that conducts your wort to the kettle for the boil) to an unintentional extraction of tannins that will make your beer express off-flavors.

In brewing, as in life and in ministry, a lot can go wrong...even when you do everything in the "right" way. you can get all the variables under control. At least, you can get as many as you can fathom under "control," and yet there is always something out there in the universe that we can't see. We can't see it because we have never experienced it before. We can't see it because we haven't developed the ability to understand and deal with it because it exceeds our current set of skills and coping mechanisms. We can't see it because it so rocks our world that it is "easier" to choose to reject it than embrace it (and failure) and then learn adn grow through it.

Our challenge to be the Church to the present age is that so much of what we have assumed as constant and sure doesn't really work anymore. The world has changed, and in order for us to be able to preach the Gospel and to reach the people, then we as the Church are going to have to change. That is a loaded, powerful and "big" word: change. It is one that we struggle with...and yet one with which we have to come to terms.

Consider how much God has embraced change in order to reach us: that God would give the only Son, Jesus, to be born in our midst...to live and then die as one of us. On the Cross. And then to rise again to Resurrection, that we might know life eternal in God's company.

Now, that is change.

Even when things go wrong...when we are trying, then we are growing.

That is our side of God's gift of grace....

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