Thursday, July 9, 2009

Starbucks and Starfish

I went to Starbucks this morning. You know the place. Green awnings, smiling faces, Italian names for paper cups, and a per-cup price that could fuel the gross national product of a small third world country.

Most Starbucks employees are young, bright and shining with enthusiasm. From time to time I run into the methodical, intense, no-smile, coffee servant who has little spark. Today was over the top! Two young ladies who were exuberant! I mean EXUBERANT! Caffeine is their early morning friend. It might be the equivalent life style of a fallen bartender.

"Good Morning" "Great to see you" "It is so excellent that you came by today" "What can I get started for you?" "I hope you have a really wonderful day" And then came the turning point..."Is that a starfish on your jacket? Does that have some special meaning?" Bingo!

Do you know the story of the starfish thrower?

It is attributed to Loren Eiseley who died in 1977. He told of a young man who was on the shore one early morning. He was diligently picking up beached starfish and throwing them back into the waiting waters. An older man came along, noticed the young man's activity, and could not help but to comment. "You know thousands of starfish wash up on this stretch of beach each year. You can't save them all." With that, the young man knelt down, picked up another starfish and tossed it gently into the ocean. His action was followed by a simple comment, "I saved that one."

I told an abbreviated version of the story to my new friends at Starbucks. They listened with delight. Then I said, "That's the story of the church. One person making a person at a time." No need to discuss doctrine, debate the incarnation, or decide if the economic stimulus package is right or wrong. Just let the starfish plant the seed. The people God through the life of the church will do the rest.

Starbucks and Starfish go together better than Peanut Butter and Jelly! Have you thrown any starfish lately?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July to everyone. I offer the same greeting / blessing to friends who live in other countries. For us, it is about the events of July 4 233 years ago that made all the difference. But we pray freedom for all the peoples of the world as we celebrate here in the USA.

Independence in this day and age seems to be a moving target. We celebrate individual freedoms but we also recognize that we live in a world that is increasingly interdependent. The global economic crisis tells the tale. When one major country struggles ... all others are impacted. Even the small villages feel the pain. It is a shared phenomenon that does not respect boundaries on the map. We are interdependent with every tribe and nation.

I wonder what would happen if our spiritual lives really became interdependent as well. Don't get me wrong, I don't want every one to believe exactly the same thing. But what if we could respect one another, learn from each other, and discover that love transcends (make us interdependent) everything that divides.

Today, we might take a moment to pray for those who find our faith difficult to understand or accept. We definitely need to pray for those who stand in the gap to insure that our freedom to worship remains intact. And please, don't forget to pray for people who are desperate to discover the reality of faith. Pray that they will discover hope and find joy.

Happy 4th with special greetings to members of the lawn mower brigade in the holy city!

Day one was Wednesday...first worship is tomorrow!