Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

One year ago today I sat in the bar with a friend listening to the band her boys played in. We had first met in a local cafe a few years back when I met another friend for coffee. My family and I had gone to that cafe off and on since that time and often Toni was our waitress. By the time I had moved to the city she had retired by came to cafe daily as a best friend of the owner.

The owner of the cafe has Parkinson's and it got to be too much for her so she sold the business. When it was first sold, Toni, that night in the bar, suggested that the community regulars at the cafe needed a place to meet. Between us the idea of a community coffee house meeting out of St. George's was born. It opened up mid-April and is totally self-supporting. It has donated a total of $1370 to St. George's in the form of cash for projects and a freezer.

At Christmas we put together three Christmas hampers for community members. We have donated to a project of the Legion that meets at St. George's and are preparing a donation to the Station 20 West project.

The coffee house is run solely on donations. People donate muffins, cookies, coffee etc. When no one has donated and supplies run low we will buy what we need. A bowl is placed out for people who want to donate to both supplies and the various projects we designate the funds for.

We have our regulars - both community people and church people. I try to be there as much as possible piggy-backing the time with my office hours. It is amazing the mixed community that has formed.

Last Thursday one of the community members suggested that we host another potluck like we did at Christmas. I suggested that it be this Thursday as it was St. Patrick's Day. And so it came to be.

It was wonderful. The table was laden with food. There was talking and sharing and laughter. There were door prizes. I am presently wearing a lovely huge green St. Patrick's Day tie that someone had won and left behind.

This is what church is. A place of gathering for all people. A place where people feel safe to come and share. One of the life-giving things for me is that it provides a venue for people to talk to me that normally wouldn't seek me out in my church office or meet me for coffee. The informal, almost chance met, atmosphere provides that feeling that they are not being preached at nor do they feel that they are formally seeking help. I love it when they draw me aside just to have me listen to what they need to share, what they need to get off their chests. For me, this is incarnational ministry. For many at the coffee house, this is as close as they are willing to get to a church. Regardless of whether they enter the actual nave of the church, they know that the church is there for them. And they know this because of the opening of the doors freely into the community - no cost, no strings, - just a place to gather and be who they are and accepted as the marvelous human beings they have become - in all their health and in all their brokeness.

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