Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Celebrate Jesus

I am not a coffee snob. At home we drink the brand of coffee that my wife finds on sale. It’s usually Folgers. We do dabble in some of the various Gevalia flavors because a friend gives them to us. I am particularly fond of the German Chocolate Cake flavored one. That’s also my favorite cake, if anyone is wondering what to send me for St. Patrick’s Day.

But I say again, I am not a coffee snob. My favorite cappuccino comes from those self-serve machines at the Pilot or RaceTrac auto centers.

Which brings me to Starbucks. Starbucks has good coffee. I will occasionally splurge and have a cup. But I am not a coffee snob. I don’t get some fancy-schmancy latte with a shot of this and a dollop of that. I just walk up to the counter and say, “I’d like a grande coffee and leave some room for cream.” I think that I always detect a little sniff from the server as he or she says, “Certainly, sir,” which translated means, “Uncultured Neanderthal.”

I’ll say this for Starbucks, though: they’re ubiquitous. They’re also everywhere.

We have two Target stores here in the greater Augusta metropolitan area. There is a Starbucks inside each store. There is also a Starbucks just outside each store. In one case, it’s in the parking lot of the store and in the other it’s right across the street.

The funniest scene in Shrek 2 is the one in which a giant gingerbread man destroys a Starbucks store and the panicked patrons run across the street to another Starbucks.

Shoot, it’s getting to where there’s a Starbucks on every corner. Before you know it they’ll be as ubiquitous (I think that’s a great word) as churches are here in the Bible belt.

We’re everywhere. We’re a part of the landscape. We’re a part of the culture. And therein lies the problem. Everybody is so accustomed to us that they really don’t give us much thought. Worse, we’re so accustomed to us that we really don’t give us much thought. Even worse, maybe we’re so accustomed to Jesus that we really don’t give him much thought—at least the open-minded, open-hearted thought that he should get.

What got me to thinking about all of this was a story I heard on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program this morning. Willie Geist reported that all of the company-owned Starbucks stores in the United States were going to be closed for three hours today for some espresso training. Mika Brzezinski said, as she sipped from her Dunkin’ Donuts cup, that she really didn’t care.

Curious, I went to the Starbucks website and found a memo from CEO Howard Schultz about today’s educational closing.

We will close all of our U.S. company-operated stores to teach, educate and share our love of coffee, and the art of espresso. And in doing so, we will begin to elevate the Starbucks Experience for our customers. We are passionate about our coffee. And we will revisit our standards of quality that are the foundation for the trust that our customers have in our coffee and in all of us.

But, as I think about it, there is another perhaps equally important reason why we have scheduled this training. It’s to celebrate who we are.

We are Starbucks. We should be incredibly proud of what we have built. We are the worldwide leader of specialty coffee. And, believe me when I tell you, we are just getting started. We will overcome the difficult and humbling challenges we face, and will be stronger for it. You have my word on that.

There may be something here that we in the Church need to think about.

Maybe we need to be more intentional about taking time to remind ourselves about the basics of being Church. Maybe we need to be more intentional about celebrating who we are. Maybe we need to be more intentional about celebrating Jesus.

I’m a Jesus snob. I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the full and complete revelation of God to sinful humanity. I believe with all my heart that everyone should come to know God in Jesus. So I believe that we who follow him need to know him, to be with him, and to celebrate him.

So let’s be sure to celebrate who we are. Even more importantly, let’s be sure to celebrate whose we are.

1 comment:

Drew Hill said...

You are on to something, Mike. It's just too common, too familiar - the Church and even Christ Himself. And I might add, the Bible as well. We've heard it all before, so we can't really hear it at all. I can only wonder if God may decide to take it all away from us in order to give it back with rediscovered power and vitality.