Here I am, sitting in a St. Arbucks, one of our world-wide offices, waiting for my friend to arrive. I look around and see fascinating sites that remind me, in numerous ways, of our congregations. Some of my thoughts affirm and support what is happening in our churches on Sunday morning. Others, quite honestly, do not, and make me wonder why. Let me count the ways as I give you a quick synopsis through these observations:
- People are streaming in and out of the entrance in brisk fashion. They seem to be on a mission –to grab their favorite java and get back into their cars to fight the morning rush. No “greeters” needed – these folks know what they are after!
- The tables are full of people who are evidently not in a hurry but have a purpose in mind – to relax, to begin the day with a friend, to just enjoy the moment. There is a student working on an assignment. I see two business people evidently talking about their agendas and priorities for the day. There is a woman with 3 little kids, each sipping on something (hopefully not coffee) while the woman tries to keep them quiet. There are two older men in the corner studying the Scriptures together. There is a woman doing a crossword puzzle (who I later find out comes here every morning as a respite before she takes on the task of caring for her 90-something year old Mom.)
- I look outside and see 15-plus cars waiting patiently (hopefully) in the Drive-Through lane. A quick 3 minute survey I take shows that 63% of the drivers are women. Not sure what that means, but it is an interesting statistics, eh?! I equate the drive-through line as a modern day confessional booth, a kind-of “Toot and Tell”. Would that ever work in our churches? I ponder….and then I drop that idea!
- I wonder how many of our Sunday morning worshippers come to Church with the energy and passion that I see around me here? Evidently these people’s needs are being met and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to meet these needs. I am amazed how Starbucks is providing a quality product, at a fairly high price, to people of all ages, and providing quality service at the same time.
- I stop observing for a moment and wonder if I am comparing apples to oranges, so to speak. Come on, I say to myself, get real. People come to worship to praise the Lord, grow in the faith, celebrate the Sacraments, be the Communion of Saints in that place, and to be refreshed by the power of God’s Word as they head back into their world. Here at St. Arbucks we have people focusing on their own needs, their own lifestyles, and their own priorities.
- On the other hand, I am observing with my own eyes people of all ages who evidently see St. Arbucks as a “safe place”, a place to build community, a place that accepts them for who they are and even for how they look, a place where relationships can grow, and a place where their needs are being met. Some “take aways” for me as I “ponder anew what the Almighty can do….” is that we as God’s people can learn from St. Arbucks to focus on relationships, model celebrative ways to live, develop safe opportunities to grow, be intentional about “attracting” people of all ages, and to deliver a Message of love and caring, not in the name of Coffee, but in the name of Christ Jesus! Remember the old “Cheers” TV show and their theme song, “….a place where everybody knows my name.”? Now that is something for us to accomplish, at St. Arbucks, sure, but even more importantly in our own “Word and Sacrament” Community, called the Church!
And that’s what’s brewing at St. Arbucks this day!