An Unlikely Pair: Meditation and Beer

 on June 13, 2024

After living in my neighbourhood, forming relationships, and trying to listen for what the unchurched people I came across needed, I came up on a contradiction of sorts. The two major complaints I came across were that 1) people were busy and exhausted, and 2) people were lonely and isolated. It turns out doing a lot of stuff doesn’t mean you have a lot of people around you.

These two facts of life for a certain subset of people in Hamilton together form a vicious cycle: there’s too much going on in our lives and in the world, so we can’t form deep relationships and exist in community; and without the power that encountering the Other in community has to change us, we keep living in the same way we always have, running from one thing to another, tiring ourselves out so we never have the time or energy to address our loneliness.

This is a kind of cycle of poverty: not a poverty of material goods, which is a cycle that the Church must vitally address, but another poverty that we have also been called to address, a poverty of Spirit.

Meditation & Beer, which has been happening weekly on Thursdays since last November at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton then at Farside, a bar a block north of the cathedral, is meant to be a double-pronged attempt to address this particlar cycle of poverty.

The format is simple: we gather in the cathedral, sit in communal silence for 20 minutes, then we socialize at the bar down the street for as long as we want to stay. In the most materialist terms, the silence is meant to give us a pause from the relentlessness of modern life, to be a little break from the busyness and the exhaustion. And, again, in the most materialist terms, the conversations over beverages are meant to help us form friendships and community. But we know nothing is simply materialist: both these parts provide a chance to encounter the Ultimate Other, the source of being and life that we Christians call by many names, the LORD, Jesus, the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, etc., in stillness and in the face of our neighbour, both places where She has promised us that She would meet us.

Since we began, many people have come and gone, but there is a small core community forming around this weekly gathering. My prayer is that this space will be one that blesses those who are experiencing the poverty of Spirit. We have formed the community through an online plat- form called under the umbrella of Hamilton’s Well (a pun on wellness but also secretly a pun on Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well) and it has been a richly rewarding experience for me personally, but also an effective way to reach the unchurched.

We are a growing ministry and we could use your help! If you are located in or near Hamilton, have a heart for those poor in Spirit, and promise not to be too churchy, we’d love for you to volunteer with us. You can send me ([email protected]) an email if you are interested. But even if you’re not, please take a moment right now to pray for all those who come to Meditation & Beer!

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