by Ralen Robinson
The long table is rolled into the Narthex. The baked goods are artfully arranged. The coffee percolates in the coffee pots. The Pastor can be heard in the distance dismissing the assembly of people gathered Sunday morning for service. The aroma welcomes the people from the sanctuary to convene together for coffee hour.
I always find solace and comfort in the aroma of coffee. I like how the roasted beans fill the room with notes of caramel and an almost nutty fragrance. The roasted bean is robust. The caffeine adds pep to one’s step while allowing the opportunity for fellowship.
There is power in coffee.
Coffee doesn’t just fuel you but fills you with endless opportunities to have communion with one another and to connect. When I lived in Jerusalem, coffee, or qahwa as it is called, was made with cardamon and was used as an invitation for someone to sit with you.
In the Dominican Republic, coffee or café are used as hospitality when you visit someone’s home. Coffee is a staple within the culture because time with one another is essential. Taking time to check-in is a priority and not an option. Here in the U.S., we congregate at coffee shops near and far. We share coffee hours at churches, creating a space for people to gather.
Coffee at church
Coffee hour creates space for strengthening bonds of friendship and for strangers to be welcomed into the community. Fellowship and hospitality are ingrained in church culture. We seek a space for community, deeper connection and comfort with our siblings in Christ.
There is power in coffee.
Returning to coffee hour is essential to stir up the spirit. Having a comfortable space to unload the highs and the lows of life and creating space for one another to convene is essential. The spirit moves you from the holy space of the sanctuary to the common spaces of companionship.
The Old Testament tells us in the book of Hebrew that we cannot neglect each other by not meeting up, but we need to carve out space for each other. “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrew 10:25)
The Church is not only an isolated event but a group event that makes people from all walks of life share in the Good News. The book of Hebrew reminds us of this and says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We bring love, comradery and support when we gather with each other. This is the true meaning of fellowship.
My congregation asked if we could return to coffee hour a few months back. I was on the fence and weary of the request but what I heard and didn’t realize initially was that they missed each other. For them, attending church and leaving wasn’t enough. The community piece was absent and left them wanting more. They weren’t spiritually fed, at least not fully, because there was no community. To gather with one another is sacred because when that space is carved out, you bridge the gap between church and community.
As the steam wafts off the coffee into the air, so does the holy spirit stirring within a community. The Church goes beyond the pews and is stirred up during coffee hour. The table is rolled out in the Narthex. The baked goods have a sweet aroma, and the coffee percolates in the coffee pots. The postlude can be heard in the distance as the sweet melody paves the way from the sanctuary so everyone can convene together for coffee.
Loving God, we are not alone; we have the spirit of community that brings us together to be on one accord. So open our hearts and eyes to see the beautiful community as you would have us see it. Remind us that we are a part of this beautiful tapestry of the church. Amen.
1. When you think of community, what comes to mind? What scents and or activities signify it?
2. How do you form a community within your life?
3. How is the spirit moving within your life, and where is it directing you?
Ralen Robinson is the pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita, Ks.