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Coffee with The Bishop

September 29, 2020

Bishop Ken Carter is a friend and fellow coffee lover, and it’s with his gracious carte blanche that I share this with you (as usual, the highlights are mine in case you’re in a hurry)— 

In honor of #NationalCoffeeDay, how I began my sermon in May, 2016 at First UMC in Portland, Oregon. I remain grateful to Donna Pritchard for that invitation.

“I love coffee. So we are here for the General Conference, and we asked for a recommendation about a place to go out for breakfast. We walked about ten minutes to a diner. We ordered coffee. Now, I love coffee. When I am at home I make the coffee, I grind the beans. But this was a diner, it was about food. My expectations for the coffee were not that high. So the coffee came, I drank it, and it was wonderful!

When the waiter came by again my wife asked, “What kind of coffee is this, it’s great!” And he replied, it is a local brand, in the past we had always served a kind of industrial coffee, but with all of the competition, and with the tastes people here have in coffee, we had to up our game.

We had to up our game.

I love coffee. I also love the church. I love the church but I am not naive about the church. I was a pastor for 28 years. In this role I remember the words of one of my bishops, years ago, who said, “when people call to complain about the church, I tell them I am glad they don’t know as much about the church as I do”.

So I get it. I know all about the church. And yet I love the church. And there is an analogy. For generations, in the United States, we offered church in an industrial kind of way. Worship at the times we prescribe. Sunday School has this particular curriculum. You will sing these hymns or praise songs. You will come to us. You will accept what we offer.

Along the way, something changed. And along the way, we are realizing that we are going to have to up our game!”

*Also grateful for Concord Coffee in Lakeland and Gainesville, FL, Panacea in Waynesville, NC, Milo’s Diner in Portland, Oregon, and Cuban Coffee wherever I can find it!

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