Good Coffee and the Ministry of Suffering
Some great pick-me-ups:
fab Citrus Sin coffee and grilled lemon cake with clotted cream from Oriole Coffee Cafe & Bar at Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, Somerset,
deliciously smooth like
Italian m hot-knife-through-butter flat whites at Forty Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru, where there was also the surprisingly good application of mango in Jamaican pork sandwiches (and Skinny Pizza doppelgänger chocolate tarts were trapped under a glass dome at the counter),
no art but a goodly head on the flat white brewed from Genovese beans at The Plain on Craig Road, properly seasoned poached eggs on melted cheese vegemite toasts, a magazine ladder draped with Wallpaper and Monocle,
and just up the stairs across the road, Chef Yamashita's own Flor Pâtisserie (explains the difference in the Patisserie Glacé's sweets around the middle of the year),
if there was any doubt, the encouragement that the word is solid and dependable - good old Peter being adamant that he had something more sure than the experience of The Transfiguration (Mark 9:1-13) - the word of God through the prophets now recorded in the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21),
that Christians are called to suffer. Nothing new. But despite the almost ad nauseum repetition in the New Testament, we tend to think, as D. A. Carson says in Love In Hard Places, "that we Christians are called to faith, but if suffering and reproach occur, they merely happen, a sort of occupational hazard. But Jesus, Paul, and Peter unite in opposing this view: as surely as Christians have been called to faith, so surely also have we been called to suffering and even to non-retaliatory responses. Peter's words [in 1 Peter] are nothing other than the outworking of Jesus’ command that we love our enemies". It might be heroic to stand up to authorities who persecute Christians and even be tortured and martyred for the sake of Christ. But everyone else with strong beliefs will be willing to die for what he values. What doesn't make the Foxe's Book of Martyrs or inspirational booklets for kids is the somewhat unspectacular and not very gory suffering found in loving one's enemies (both within and with-out the church) and praying for those who persecute one, loving as God commanded and enabled us to love,
that the full-time paid service of the church is not something one retreats to, out of the hostile godlessness of the world. The burden of a church of saved sinners living closely together would be too heavy for such a patently selfish and self-centred motive, and as David Jackman points out in Workers for the Harvest Field, the absence of the qualities of a good undershepherd - love, true humility and the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others - would soon be obvious.
No one is worthy of the task. Yet, and yet, this is not the time to be sitting in a corner like a coward, sucking one's thumb - there is work to be done, because, just as it has been from before the chronicles of 1 and 2 Kings, so it is now - peoples wandering in darkness, asherahs under every green tree.