E-pistle October 24

Forget the cup of cool water…make it a cup of hot coffee
Matthew 25 records Jesus’ Holy Week words about our care for the least of those who are his brothers and sisters.  In offering care and concern for others, Jesus tells us that it is as if we offered care and concern to him.  It’s a powerful statement.
A cup of cool water offered to the stranger is a token of love that extends across cultural and religious lines.  Christians have no corner on the hospitality market, but kindness done quietly and consistently in Jesus’ name may be one of our most significant ministries in a world that is increasingly fragmented and among people who are increasingly isolated.
That’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of fellowship times before and after worship.  And why, for all their excesses, I’m not so critical of the Starbucks in the lobby phenomena that has become a part of the megachurch playbook.  But I am a little critical of the “drive thru latte stand” (I’m not making this up – go to the site).    
It turns out that coffee and other hot drinks are good things for developing friendships, and developing friendship really is a kingdom-building activities.  Researchers (and aren’t you glad that there is still money available for research like this) have just discovered that people holding hot drinks experience more relational warmth that those who are holding cold drinks.  Here’s a report on the study.
The implications at LPC are clear.  First of all, it looks like the powdered lemonade has to go.  Or it needs to be kept in some members-only area accessible only with a password or maybe a retina scan. 
We’ll also need to train a group of greeters who have learned not only how to engage our visitors in non-threatening yet significant conversation, but who can subtly steer our new friends towards the coffee pot.  Apparently it doesn’t matter if they actually drink the coffee or not; we just have to get them to hold the cup and, voilà, our outreach efforts will have just become 11% more effective. 
Oh, and by the way, did you notice the study about selfishness and warm or cold therapeutic pads?  In this experiment, people who had been holding a warm pad tended to act in a more generous way than those who had been holding a cold pad. I wonder if we might be able to get some heated pew pads installed before Stewardship Sunday. 
So, what will it be?  Shall we have the trustees run heating coils through the pew pads and set up the Starbucks stand in the narthex (we’ll forget the drive-thru latte stand for now), or shall we simply offer our visitors a friendly handshake, a sincere smile, some genuine concern, and, as the Spirit leads, our own witness to the power of the gospel in our lives – and maybe a cup of powdered lemonade? 
Whatever we do for the least of his brothers and sisters, we do for him.
I’ll see you at coffee hour on Sunday!