Arnold of Soissons AD1040–AD1087. Patron saint of brewers and hop-pickers.
When we celebrate All Saints Day, we remember all those who have been faithful to Jesus throughout their lives. Why do we celebrate? Because all those who believe in Christ are still alive with him and therefore are still part of his church. They still worship together with us! The author of Hebrews encourages us to imagine those who have gone before us surrounding us and cheering us on to finish running the race that they have already completed before us. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1)."
The saints that have gone before us also help us understand what it means to be like Christ. Jesus is the perfect image of God and he shows us how we ought to live in this world. But Jesus was sent for a specific purpose (or profession, if you will). He was sent to die for our sins and atone for the world. That mission was unique to Jesus. God has given us other callings. But this raises some questions. What does it look like to be Christ-like in the workforce? What does it look like to be like Jesus as a mother raising children? What does it look like to brew beer like Jesus?
The saints help us answer these questions by demonstrating in real life, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ-likeness in a variety of places, times, and callings.
Arnold, was a Benedictine monk who founded the Abbey of St. Peter in Oudenburg, Belgium. He brewed what is known as "small beer" in the abbey along with fellow monks. Small beer is low in alcohol and high in nutritious yeast. The boiling necessary to make the beer frees it from harmful bacteria. We must remember that Arnold lived before germ theory so no one knew about germs yet. But Arnold, moved by God's spirit, encouraged the poor in Oudenburg to not drink water but rather drink the healthful small beer. He also taught the villagers how to make beer for themselves. When plague ravaged nearby towns, all the inhabitants of Oudenburg were miraculously spared. God worked a miracle through Arnold's beer making!
So can you brew beer like Jesus? Yes you can. And in each of our various callings we can strive be like St. Arnold and therefore like Christ. Whatever God has given you to do, do it for the love of God and neighbor, and see what miracles God works through you!
The Rev. Kurt Hein