Often times in graduate school I have joked that coffee is gasoline to the student. For whatever the reason in our modern life coffee shops have become a hub for people to congregate. Actually i have read books in seminary which talk about “where people congregate,” given that the Church in America is dying. For the most part the answer appears to be, bars, gyms and of course coffee shops. I spend a great deal of time in them studying, and find that I frequently meet interesting people in the process.
The other day there was this peculiar moment when good music started playing in a local Arizona shop and there was a subtle change in the place. Grinning, I looked up, noticing heads bobbing, feet and pencils tapping, smiles developing, as we all became united in the rhythm. A young black woman at the counter was ordering and began to dance a rather impressive samba. An older white gentleman, in a trance near the open window began to clap. It was delightful and bizarre: a room full of people connected in simple joy for a few moments. Almost as fast as it arrive, it was gone. We slipped back to our various activities, individuals again.
I need that sort of connection. Its not why I go to Church, nor is it why I am a Christian. But its good to feel like you aren’t alone. When a group of people come together in a worship service and are united in music and prayer before God in the mystery of the Holy Spirit its a wonderful experience! While very much like the one in the coffee shop, it differs in its intentionality and frequency. In the book of Acts there is this moment we call Pentecost (Acts 2:43-47) when Christians experience the Spirit of God for the first time. Its joyful and chaotic, so much so that anyone else watching assumes they must be drunk. Its just not a normal thing to loose our self-consciousness and dance and sing together. Something has to grease the wheels so to speak, we need a social lubricant. But it sure it great when it happens!