I had a missing-time experience this morning so I decided to take advantage of it. No, not an alien abduction kind of missing time, but the other kind of missing-time. Someone I was supposed to be seeing was suddenly unavailable and I had a hole in my schedule. I took advantage of this hole and did something I used to do a lot but haven’t done in very long while. I went to a local coffee bar, ordered my favorite caffeinated beverage (cinnamon dolce latte skinny extra hot), made small talk with the newbie barista—who did a great job, by the way on the drink—and sat at the little bar on the stool and worked in a very non-hurry-up-lets-go way.
It was great.
The first thing I did was finish the last few pages of my Sherlock Holmes novel. It was nice. Then I opened my laptop and wrote a whole long section for the sermon I’m preaching in three weeks on marriage. It is a part of my sermon series on “doubt” and the theme is the doubts many people have today about marriage. As a side note, I finished that sermon just a few moments ago, will edit it tomorrow and will officially be caught up in the sermonizing category. For me caught up is three weeks ahead.
Then, I sat and daydreamed about what I would like to see happen in our church and ministry between now and the end of the year. I used to daydream a lot about ‘how it could be’ but I’ve not lately. There have been many reasons for this, but I know I need to do it more. Creativity comes from contemplation.
As I thought I brainstormed such things as church plants in the area, increased presence in the community, how to improve our children’s ministry, and how I might want to tweak my sermonizing. I also spent some time reflecting upon the Easter weekend. Attendance on Sunday was very good. Good Friday was a bust, though. We had too many doughnuts leftover, but that might be because somehow they were far away from where the people were.
The coffee bar lounge was very crowded. Almost every seat in the place was filled. To my left sat a woman, about my age, who kept alternately reading a novel and writing notes in a spiral notebook. She must be studying, but she looked far too old to be a student, and the book she was reading looked like something you pick up in line at the grocery store. Maybe she is studying to be a writer?
To my left were a father and mother with a little boy in between them. That little boy must have been about 4. He talked the entire time. Non-stop. It was a thing of beauty. What made me sad was that all his questions were directed toward his father, not his mother. Daddy answered all of his question with short, one syllable answers. Daddy was more interested in his USA Today and his cell phone than he was his son. Have I ever been that guy with my daughters? Yes. Lord forgive me.
Behind me was two different tables filled with middle-aged women. At both tables the main topic was church. I got the definite impression it was not a small group or accountability group or a fellowship group. It was a “these are the things we don’t like about our church” group. At first I was thankful that these folks were not from my church, but then I realized two things. First, since the body of Christ is so intrinsically connected, all believers are a part of ‘my church.’ Second, my church people were probably in another coffee place, or perhaps they would be here tomorrow.
These uncomfortable thoughts made me remember why I needed to spend time in the coffee bar more often. It connects me to reality—to where people really are—foibles, faults, and phobias. Somewhere in the gossiping church women, the neurotic note taking woman, and the coming adolescent son-father train wreck was where most of us live. When I preach, these are the kinds of people who are hearing.
I opened my laptop and made some revisions to my sermon.