MINISTRY MINUTE: When there’s only a minute for ministry
Rev. Ross Riggs
The ebb and flow of the patrons follows the clock around as the hour hand again strains toward twelve as if it will take every ounce of effort to get over that hump and back down again. I have the neither the time or nor the money to lounge in a U.S. coffee shop for any length of time. In Bosnia it is a part of the daily existence because it is there that a ‘time out’ is called from the rush of the day to catch our breath and resettle our minds. I think that perhaps if Jesus were ministering in Bosnia in 2012, as He did in the land of Israel in the first century, instead of the wilderness, He would have headed to a coffee shop to find His time away from the pressures of ministry.
In the U.S. it is a not an escape from reality but a plunging headlong into the work-a-day world of dozens of entrepreneurs who perhaps have home-based businesses and need a place to meet clients. It is the world of the movers and shakers (or their wannabe’s) that fear the ears of the office and decide to meet their protégés in the bustling atmosphere where classical music sets the back drop for the harried business calls and the deals yet to be sealed.
It may be my cynical side creeping out but I suspect that just as Jesus may have used a coffee shop in Bosnia to escape for a few moments respite; in the U.S. it would have been Judas who sealed his deal with the devil in a coffee shop. To all my readers who cannot wait to grab their customized cup and hit their local bean roaster, I may have committed a sin worthy of anathema in the religion of the coffee drinkers’ world.
I am actually old enough to have visited a ‘coffee shop’ near our college campus in the days when self-designed poets plied their trade on all who would, yes, snap their fingers in approval. I didn’t stay long, I must confess. Even today, I snap my fingers usually only to scold my dog or shoo the chickens toward their roost.
This day I find myself back in a coffee shop. No poets agonizing the long dead ears of the masters but in a ‘modern’ shop where latte’s and iced-coffees reign and classical music sets my nerves on edge as it incessantly seems to be playing the same song over and over, at least to my ears. The client I was to meet has failed to appear and I suspect has either lost his way or his nerve. Either way, I am given time to reflect on the bustle around me, the hurried un-hurriedness of those who seek a diversion from what lies outside those doors but who have in effect carried the reality of the outside in and the line between the two is barely noticeable save for the squeak of the door as it opens and closes.
I find myself wishing I were sitting along the bustling streets of Sarajevo, quietly lost in the world of a ‘real’ coffee shop. Even though the healthy drive to prohibit smoking in any place where there is air has not yet, and may never, hit Sarajevo; still the din of the Sarajevo coffee shop is so much more peaceful than the repressed quiet of the American shop. And we haven’t even begun to address the issue of the coffee!
I know that if I truly had my ‘druthers’ I would be out in a beautiful country-side setting, along the foothills of a Rocky Mountain range, leaning against a tree, coffee cup in hand. My horse would be grazing quietly nearby and the only chore left to do is to settle on what to cook over the fire for dinner before unrolling the bedroll for a night under the stars. The coffee would not be any more of an exotic blend than what those out west call ‘cowboy coffee’ and the only music playing would be that of nature. As I consider the options, Jesus always chose the wilderness and I think I understand why.
Enough of that, with my client over thirty minutes late, it is time to get back up in the saddle and head back into reality.