Monday, August 25, 2008

Latte Lutherans: Faith and Starbucks

Below is the first of four posts that originated as I was sitting at Good Earth Village Lutheran Bible Camp a few weeks ago. Sitting on the ridge, overlooking the valley below I was just sort of struck by this theme/series. It was quite clear and coherent in my brain at the time. I hope it comes out the same for you as I've now attempted to put this into words....


One of the great things about being Lutheran is our embracing of a “priesthood of all believers.” It’s that notion that all of us are called to ministry in one form or another. This struck me a couple of years ago when I graduated from seminary.

As I wrapped up seminary I anticipated beginning my call shortly after finishing. Throughout my four and a half years I heard about the pastor shortage, so it was a no-brainer that I would be in a call in no time. As it turns out things didn’t go quite that smoothly (of course when does life go exactly as planned?).

The process of finding a call as a pastor was not coming along at all, so I wound up with a job at Starbucks. I should have known something was up when I learned my manager was the daughter of a retired Lutheran pastor. During my time there I learned a lot about a ministry of hospitality, something we all were responsible for. I also was privileged to hear many stories of people caring for people and making sacrifices you never would have guessed. Can you believe there were people who regularly brought treats for the employees?

When I was at Starbucks I got to witness ministry happening around me all the time. You wouldn’t believe the patience afforded me as I was learning how to make the thousands of different drink options. People would come in and help students out with homework. Employees learned the drinks, and stories, of regular customers. You would see the kindness in how co-workers treated each other working together at a table, even fellow employees picking up orders for each other. Regular customers would form friendships with other regulars, and with Starbucks employees, where normally there would be none.

I realize these are simple, common behaviors in many ways. In other ways they were simply extraordinary because we don’t always function this way as a society any more. Still it reassured me that God is alive and well and continues to work through people in powerful ways.

No comments: