The pastors suggested we try a coffee shop/gathering place in the basement during the Christmas season to see if there may be some interest. If it developed traction perhaps something more significant could come of it, depending on how the trustees viewed the project. (Everyone knows who really runs the church – and it ain’t the Pastoral staff.)
Our church facility has never enjoyed the luxury of a location where you visit before or after the service, sipping on highly caffeinated coffee, a practice much endorsed by the ministers as it helps to keep everyone attentive, the only downside being that some pick up their church mail before, instead of after church, providing an irresistible temptation to read the church family news letter rather than focus on more substantive matters, during the service.
Church starts at 9:00. The coffee hour hostesses have things ready to go at 8:30. I rather enjoyed heading over a little early each Sunday morning. It helped prepare me for the morning service. It deepened my appreciation for my fellow parishoners. If only it would have stopped there.
I don’t recall that I’ve ever taken coffee into the sanctuary before, but with half a cup to go, and the first hymn about to start, I thought it would be poor stewardship to throw the coffee out, so I snuck it in with me, not knowing that a very good friend of mine who I sat directly in front of, considered this highly inappropriate.
He let me know it as soon as I sat down, without a wink or a grin. He was offended.
I thought I could not only lighten him up a little, but possibly enlighten him as well, all to no avail.
Bear in mind, we are a traditional, conservative, rural Mennonite congregation. I’ve got 40 some Jerseys in our barn. They do get milked twice a day, although I’ve not helped in a while. We just celebrated our church’s 75th anniversary. Bringing coffee into the sanctuary is not a cornerstone upon which our church was built.
It was after the service that I crossed the line. I turned around and asked my friend if he’d care to dispose of my Styrofoam cup for me, thinking perhaps such a gallant gesture would thaw him out. It went over like a hand-held mic with a dead battery.
My conscience got the best of me on Monday morning. I called up and apologized for my behavior.
He appreciated the call and said he would forgive me. He has. I stopped in to see him a couple of days later just to be sure.
Regardless, it will be a couple months of Sundays before I pull that stunt again.
Going through life is analogous to driving a car. After seventy years we all look a little like the cars in Cuba. What we’ve learned in our little community, however, is to recognize that some of these bumps and dents are unavoidable, and that with an attitude of mercy, forgiveness, and asking for forgiveness, we are able to move forward united. In our own unique way we seek to humbly honor and glorify our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, at least until the next time one of us swerves left of center.