My barista knows my name.
Confession: I don’t go to Starbucks unless I have to.
OK, no one has to go to Starbucks. I get it.
But when I want good coffee and the cafe environment, I rarely go there. This is partly because I’ve found better coffee (not a hard thing to do in the Pacific Northwest) and partly because when I walked into the coffee shop I now frequent, they asked my name.
From then on, I’ve been greeted by name every time I’ve walked through the door. And it’s not just me – many customers receive the same treatment, creating an atmosphere of communal conversation where your thoughts are only as private as you want to keep them. You can sit in the corner with a book and earbuds, or you can type away on your laptop until you want to join the conversation at the next table. And all the time, the baristas provide commentary, introductions, and most importantly, refills.
Did I mention the coffee is amazing?
In the wake of the most contrived story of 2015, I’ve been thinking about all the Christians who “don’t care about a cup.” Who don’t care about the container or company that supplies their caffeine.
But, I wonder, do they – do we care about the person who hands it to us?
We’re about to celebrate Christmas among millions of people. Millions of people who don’t share our values, who don’t respect our schedules, and who don’t agree with us about much of anything. Some of them will even be sitting across the table from us on Christmas Eve.
We can start or join arguments. We can grumble to our tribe. We can make ourselves a spectacle for the media to mock.
Or we can remember that Jesus celebrated the first Christmas by leaving heaven to love and live among people who rejected him.
They still do.
Do we love them? Will we live among them?
Or will we grab our red cups and dash out the door on our way to our next Bible study?
Without even learning their names. Or the names of their kids.
They have kids, you know? Some of them, at least.
They have kids and parents and spouses and ex-spouses. They have dreams. And bills. Some of them have diseases.
Do we know any of this? Or do we just know the sale price and coupon code?
I’m trying to say that there are more important things than coffee. And there are even more important things than Christmas. More important even than Christendom itself.
I’m trying to say that if our changing culture is indeed silencing the Christian witness we have so often proclaimed from the platform of public acceptance, it only means that we should invest even more in that one place where the Gospel has always borne the most fruit – our relationships with others.
I’m sure that the future will challenge the place of Christians in society, but I’m also sure that baristas will continue to learn their names.
Will we learn theirs?