Thursday, March 05, 2009

Coffe Cup Church

Small talk is exchanged over steaming lattes or cups-o-Joe. It’s obligatory and comforting and brings the conversation to the point at which confession begins. Not really a “Forgive me father, for I have sinned,” type of confession…more of a “Here’s what’s going on with me,” kind of thing. A confession none-the-less. It’s rarely actual sin that’s discussed; more often it’s fear, guilty feelings, anger, job stress, marriage, temptation, parenting stuff, or some kind of relationship glitch. It’s something that bears some weight on the heart and needs to be shared – aired out to someone safe and trustworthy. It’s always spiritual, though not always about God or religion. Sometimes joy is confessed or feelings of accomplishment, moments of well-deserved attention or credit for having done well. These things cry for airing as much as anything.

As the confession finds authentic and unconditional love, it grows bolder, and risks greater disclosure. Truth spills out with its accompanying feelings and tests the capacity for mercy and grace in the listener. Finding unfettered acceptance and understanding, it pours out, full-orbed, and rises with the steam from the cups as a prayer of thanksgiving from both listener and speaker.

This dance of love continues with confession, reflection, gratitude, encouragement, question, and counsel moving to the movement of the Spirit and the rhythms of healing.
Cups empty, they rise to leave with a handshake or a hug. Eyes are dried and smiles, authentic, not forced, give testimony to the meaning of the moments spent huddled in sharing.

A miracle has occurred in the presence of the other patrons though invisible to their eyes. The promise of Christ that we would do greater things than his miracles has been fulfilled, though unspectacularly, in the confines of this tiny coffee shop.

We’ve all done this dance, either as confessor, listener, or both. It’s the ministry of reconciliation taking place as we live into our belief that all are ministers. This great joy is not out of reach for any of us who take the time to listen or muster the courage to share.
This is church at its best and its most powerful.