We Are Open for Coffee
There’s more than just human hydration concern involved when you offer to make someone a cuppa! When the question is ‘can I make you a brew’ you’re talking about more than a warm beverage. You already like this person a little, they’re in your home, but when you’re willing to put the kettle on you say… I’m here for you, you can stay, let me look after you a bit… and even occasionally… ‘Could you look after me’?
At Christchurch our pattern is to stew over the wisdom in the bible where many events take place over a brew. Jesus was always eating at someone’s home and it always carried deeper implications.
In the culture of that time, when you sat down to dine, your conversation entered a different sphere. In ‘breaking bread’ with someone, your chat became contractual, your word your bond which meant you had an accord with whoever was at the other end of the table. Even today in Jerusalem when a verbal agreement is made over dinner, it binds like a legal document. A relationship is struck, a union formed. So you don’t sit down with just anyone! This is why people got so flustered when Jesus went and ate with the riff-raff of society, sinners as the bible calls them. What was he thinking?! The respected rabbi would receive the finest offers of hospitality on his travels yet despite many grand invitations, Jesus often ate in the backstreets with the messed up of society. “Rabbi I can see you’re eating, let me get rid of this whore who seems to be having a breakdown in my front room” says the respected local figure, to which Jesus (by his actions) retorts , she can stay… (Luke 7) “Rabbi meet Zacchaeus, he colludes with our enemy the Romans, he steals our money, he’s basically a corrupt little weasel” yet Jesus says “I’m coming to your house to eat” (Luke 10). His dining habits weren’t acts of convenience they were theological statements, revelations about God’s hopes for the world.
The good host
Jesus would tell stories to make the point — the Good Samaritan was a favourite. You know the one; where the guy you’re not expecting to be good is good, where hospitality crosses social boundaries and we get a glimpse of what real love is like. Stories like that still blow us away today, when human care extends beyond the cultural norms. The Samaritan who dresses the wounds and fills the belly of his long standing adversary like the Palestinian NHS nurse who quietly but compassionately cares for the sick xenophobic and loud and proud Brit. Like the good neighbour down the street whose door is always open and kettle is always on. Jesus showed a really powerful different way to live when he ate with the poor, the sick and the criminal. In dining with them, he said; I’m here for you, you can stay, let me look after you a bit. He turned the idea of hospitality on its head. And out of nowhere, the rejected and downtrodden of society had an accord with this miracle maker everybody wanted to meet. It was a game changer and its legacy lives on!
The early church picked it up. Not easily mind, being hospitable to others was not foremost on the mind of first century Christians. How could it be when the Roman Empire made sport of killing them all, you’d want to keep your faith a secret and watch your own back right? That’s where my head would be anyway! But the early church lived with the recent memory of Jesus’ awesome example and had the encouragement of his closest followers to keep it going.
“Share with God’s people who are in need, practice hospitality, bless those who persecute you” Paul told the church at Rome (12:14)
Erm… bit risky that… and worse still in the note addressed to all Hebrews…
“do not forget to entertain strangers for by so doing some of you have entertained angels without knowing it” Hebrews 13:2
This was suicide, just let anybody in and give them a good feed, ask questions later. But consider the possibility that in these moments of kindness you invite God near too!
And so being hospitable became extolled as a virtue, one that would be essential for the church to survive. It made its way into the church leaders manual that Paul passed on to Timothy and Titus. A leader must be able to teach, keep order, be virtuous enough to sit above reproach.. Oh and you’ll need to be the kind of person that would put the kettle on… (Titus 1:8)
We are open for coffee at Christchurch Xscape, look for us at the back of the centre, next door to Xercise. If you find us it’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon buried treasure. Our coffee is unique to us, always fresh ground and served by our barista staff. Our cakes like a little glimpse of heaven; people wilt at the sight them, healthy eating plans crumbling like a perfectly done macaron. If we were near the centre of Leeds you’d wonder if you were trendy enough enter. If we were in Paris you just couldn’t afford to come in. If we were fuelled by capitalist values of the time we could be a bit of goldmine. But that’s not what makes us tick.
We are Open for coffee
We keep the kettle on. We think spending time together is too important to be a matter of budget. We think paying as you’re able reminds us of our shared humanity. We think paying as you feel gives opportunity for your kindness to cross barriers. We think a good coffee is more than the buzz that comes with the caffeine fix, a good coffee says I’m here for you, you can stay, let me look after you a bit and even on occasion, could you look after me.
Ash Gibson, Assistant Pastor, Christchurch Xscape