I went to the Meck last Sunday night and found out I was once a minister in this town. I’d forgotten. Others hadn’t.
Oh, it’s so good to see you. I really miss seeing you in church.
I squeezed up to the bar between two people to place my order only to hear the customer on my right say he’d like to buy me a drink. As it turns out, it was the new priest in town. He said he was glad to make my acquaintance since he’d heard so much about me.
I don’t know what he’d heard, but I accepted his gracious offer. I was touched. Really.
Back in the day I was the only minister in town who patronized the Meck. In fact one priggish citizen tattled on me to one of my parishioners.
I thought you should know that I saw your new minister going into the Meck the other night!
To which my parishioner calmly replied: If the Reverend Tremba was going into the Meck, I’m sure he had a good reason.
I don’t know which night the crank was referring to, but it’s very likely I had three good reasons to go into the Meck that night—namely, three draft beers. It’s a trinitarian thing.
The new priest is not exactly a Graham Greene “whiskey priest,” but he’s close enough to win my admiration. He raised a toast to Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century antagonist of the Catholic Church.
I really like Luther, he said.
(I like Luther too. I like John Calvin more. But I wasn’t going to quibble. I was drinking with a maverick.}
We clinked glasses, and then I asked if he’d like to hear my favorite tribute to Luther.
Sure, he said.
Okay. Here goes: While Martin Luther sat and drank his Wittenberg ale, the Reformation ran its course.
He laughed. We clinked glasses again and then talked about starting a weekly God-on-tap open discussion at the Meck.
Yeah, that would be fun.
The customer on my other side overheard our happy chatter and told us she didn’t believe in God, the Bible, or organized religion. Nature is my god and my religion, she said.
That’s really cool, we both replied.
As you may know, the prophet Elijah passed his mantle on to his successor Elisha. Next time I go to the Meck, I’m taking my mantle.
(If I can find it.)