Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meditations on how working at Starbucks and living in a foreign country prepared me to attend an Anglican seminary, with specific thoughts toward chapel

Well, there is a paper that is due in less than 24 hours, and have I started it? No. Have I completed the reading necessary in order to write this paper? No.

That is why, obviously, I am compelled to write this blog post.  Procrastination is a disease that even I am not immune to.


A few years back, when interviewing at Starbucks, I knew that I liked coffee, but admitted that I had no clue how to make or describe one thing on the menu.  Apparently they liked my honesty (or, they saw someone whose mind wasn't polluted with ideas of how coffee is made, and they wanted to mold me), and soon (or after a while), they had trained me to know the language and customs and people of Starbucks.

I am aware that a lot of people avoid going to coffee shops, because, while they love coffee, they are confused by the elitist menu, the different words/sizes for small, medium, or large, and the fact that a gas-station cappuccino is nothing like a coffee shop cappuccino (so when you get a light, frothy drink you feel ripped off, even though that is what you ordered).  I understand that it can be daunting to go into a place not knowing how to describe what you want or being confused, and too proud to admit you need help.

But eventually, if you keep going...and you work up the courage to ask a question, you will find that most people who work at coffee shops are trained to answer your questions and to generally be helpful.  Going in with a friend who is familiar with coffee shops is also helpful.


A couple years ago, when we first moved to LT, the biggest adventure was going grocery shopping.  We had both been pretty good at grocery shopping in the States, so it could be frustrating or overwhelming at times to feel so incompetent at what was a simple task back home.  Not being able to read labels or packaging, guessing what you were getting based on the picture on the front, getting the right thing, but not knowing how to read the directions to prepare it, not knowing what would be readily (to us), local food....trying to find a suitable substitute for foods we couldn't find....doing the math to figure out how many american dollars we were spending...not being able to read the details of a sale sign, etc etc etc. However, after some time, we began to learn how to read Lithuanian, we began to realize which stores sold certain items, we learned the words for all sorts of herbs and spices, and soon going to the grocery store was just another normal thing.  Just had to learn the language, customs, and people of LT.  Of course, it helped to have a friend who was familiar with LT grocery stores to come with those first couple times.


This past Fall I started seminary full-time.  I love it. I love the classes, I love what we're reading, I love thinking and learning about theology, the Bible, Christianity, the history of it all, etc.  It is very challenging yes, for reasons that are obvious. I am a procrastinator who blogs when she should be writing a paper, for one.  For another, I'm not too inclined to remember all the exact details of the whos and whats of history (though I like the stories).  The biggest adjustment/culture shock/thing I just need to suck it up and get used to/stress has been being fully immersed in the Anglican style of worship.  Like being a coffee lover who is not familiar with Starbucks, I feel like I don't know what is going on half the time. I know Jesus, I know (some) of the songs, etc....but I'm not used to doing everything so scripted (ie, the Book of Common Prayer). I'm used to saying "large" instead of "venti."  I am not used to being so much involved in the service. I'm used to my gas-station cappuccino and now I am being served up something with familiar elements, but that I still haven't acquired a taste for.  I've been grocery shopping before, but I don't know how to understand everything that I'm reading/reciting (that is, if I'm on the same page as everyone).  Hopefully I've not lost you as I jump in and out of analogy.  I really want to like going to chapel, but I'm not there yet. I just don't feel like I've learned all the moves yet.  I don't know the language, customs, and people of the Anglican church.  Well, I do know some of the people.  They, like the people at Starbucks and in Lithuania are pretty nice.

So I don't sound like a total Debbie Downer, I will remind you that I grew to really like coffee shops and grocery shopping in Lithuania.  I will also list my top 3 things that I can appreciate about Anglican worship.

3.  One of my pet peeves of some churches are that they are way too seeker friendly.  Going to chapel reminds me of what it is like to be someone who is totally new, lost, and confused.  A little-seeker friendliness might not be so bad after all.  Anglican worship reminds me that we should probably not swing too far to either side of the seeker-friendly/member-friendly spectrum.  We need to nurture everyone in the church.  We've been attending a church on Sunday evenings that is an Anglican church plant.  Sometimes I like to think of it as Anglican 101.  That's a good thing.  It also helps that we were invited by friends who explained everything as it was happening during our first church service.

2.  I like that we read aloud things together as a congregation.  Scripture, prayers, declarations of faith, etc.  It is very participatory.

1.  Anglicans.  I do really like most every Anglican I've ever encountered.  Even if they worship in a way that I am not accustomed to, they love Jesus lots.


So, to conclude, I like coffee, Lithuania, and Anglicans.  But I'm not necessarily ready to become a card-carrying member.  Maybe a temporary resident :)

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