Last night, at the Fools for Christ’s Sake dinner, I found myself in a role I’ve never played before: bartender. I’ve done several kinds of work in my life (busboy, dishwasher, sandwich chef, reporter, editor, writer, etc.), but bartending was a first for me. Steve Corey, Jeff Unger, and I worked the bar more or less in the middle of the undercroft, which gave me a great view of the room as I doled out glasses of rum punch and wine.
There were several surprised looks from parishioners as they came up to get their drinks: “What are you doing here – a priest as a bartender?” (I had taken off my collar but was still wearing the black shirt because it worked well with the server outfit.) I made some smart comment about how I had some professional experience in serving red wine, which brought a laugh or two.
But there was more to what I was saying than what I first thought. Looking out at the “congregation” there assembled for dinner, I imagined the view I get from behind the altar on Sunday mornings – not so different from the view last night. There we were, the people of God assembled for a meal that reminded us why we were there – to do our part in making Christ present in the world. There were no words of consecration, but there was certainly holiness embodied last night as we actively remembered Jesus and his command to care for the least among us. Standing there behind the bar, I might as well have been behind an altar – for Jesus was there, too.