June 1, 2023
I had coffee with a friend last week and he was excited to introduce me to a place I’d never tried before: Provision on Missouri at 7th Street. As it turns out, he knows the owners and has been connected to them and their business as it’s unfolded over the last decade. He was genuinely invested in their story and the relationship that they’ve developed over several years and it was apparent. On that particular Tuesday morning, there was lots of joy: Joy in a newly developing friendship, joy in a good cup of coffee, and the joy of sharing that particular place and that experience.
It reminded of when I had a place like that. There’s a coffee shop (and at night, a pizzeria) in the North Park neighborhood in San Diego called Caffe Calabria that I love. When we lived in San Diego, I scheduled almost all my off-campus meetings there, and I took all my friends there for coffee or dinner. I got to know the staff and the owners. And even though we left San Diego almost seven years ago, we still buy our coffee from their roastery and have it shipped to our house.
The enthusiasm that we all have over sharing our favorite things with people is just a part of what makes us human. We want the people we care about to share in our excitement over the things we love. Is it too far-fetched to think about a cup of coffee in those terms? That depends on how much you like coffee. Personally,
I love coffee. I drink 4-5 cups of coffee a day, sometimes more. So when a friend invites me to a new coffee place, I register that as good news. I look forward to the experience of sitting at the table to share good coffee and good conversation.
I used the phrase good news on purpose because of its significance in our identity as the Body of Christ. The word in Greek that is translated as good news (or gospel in other places) is evangelion, the basis of our modern word evangelism. Evangelism can be a bad word in the Episcopal Church because we associate it with street-corner preachers and others who focus primarily on conversion rather than conversation. But that’s not what Jesus did. In fact, Jesus rarely preaches in the Gospels, preferring instead to spend time sharing meals with outcasts and sinners, healing the sick, and answering questions with stories (and sometimes, more questions!). Jesus’s ministry was about dialogue and relationship first and foremost – the change of heart and amendment of life just flowed from that.
In a world that is full of bad news, sharing the things we love with others and giving our loved ones a moment of rest from the doom and gloom is indeed good news.
So this summer, before you invite a friend to church, invite them to coffee. Start a spontaneous book club with some friends and gather to discuss that novel you’ve been wanting to read. Plan a day trip to get out
of the heat. Host a movie night at your house. Share the things that give you joy with the people who give you joy. And then…let your graciousness and hospitality be the sign of a life that has been transformed by the radical love of God.
When the Bishop visited our parish a few weeks ago,
she said something that’s stuck with me: One of the most evangelistic things a suburban parish like ours can do is serve people a good cup of coffee with a smile. So that’s going to be one of our projects here at All Saints’. Michelle and I bought 15 pounds of extra coffee on our latest order from Caffe Calabria and we are excited to share it with all of you. It should be enough to get us through the summer. So, try a cup of coffee at church and let me know what you think. And who knows – maybe you can invite a friend to meet you for coffee here on a Sunday?
We’re going to try something else new this summer: During the month of July, we are going to have TWO weekend services, Saturday at 5PM and Sunday at 9AM. We’ll have the coffee ready before the 9AM service, and after church at about 10AM, we are planning a series of all-ages activities to give us the chance to spend some time together and build relationships with one another. After all, we are a community of faith at All Saints’.