Daily Devotions

More Than a Starbucks

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Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

There was a time when Starbucks was my hangout. This was usually the case on a Friday night when my daughter had her girlfriends over for a sleepover. It was drinking coffee and working on my computer surrounded by strangers. What fun! But now, with six feet of social distancing and the need for a mask, Starbucks may be going the way of Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Steve LeVine, in his article “The Uncertain Future of Post-Pandemic Starbucks,” shares the success and possible downfall of America’s favorite coffee boutique. LeVine shares, “By last January, if you had invested $10,000 in Starbucks stock at its nadir in December 2008, it would have been worth $236,290.” Uffdah! Since the January peak, it is down by more than 20% with no end in sight. LeVine continues, “Even when restaurants reopen in the U.S. and elsewhere, they predict that coffee sales will return to pre-Covid levels only by 2024.”

How we receive our consumer goods is continually changing. I miss the ma and pop clothing store we used to go visit downtown in order to buy school clothes. Malls ruined the downtown stores. Now, shopping malls are in decline, and were even before COVID-19. Coffee used to be something you ordered at a sit-down café that served breakfast. Until now, coffee was a separate store where you went even when you didn’t care about breakfast. Coffee, like clothing stores will continue to evolve.

So too, will the Christian faith evolve. Thank God the Christian faith is no longer like it was in the Dark Ages, or in 1600’s Salem, Massachusetts. Our faith should no longer be treated like purchasing coffee. Just because it is no longer in vogue doesn’t mean it should be given up. The Christian faith should continue to evolve, but should not be denied. Churches may transform their ethical and even theological understandings, but the commitment to our Triune God must not be denied as if we are choosing Dillard’s over Sears, or Caribou over Starbucks. Pray others will not turn the Christian faith into Starbucks, but will recognize that while some change is inevitable, the commitment to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should not be an option, but “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Blowing Through a Hollow Reed

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Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

Judaism and, later, Christianity did a number of radical things that transformed our world. One of the most controversial aspects of the Judeo-Christian religion which directly affected the rest of the world was the commitment to the Sabbath. I am not over-exaggerating – those outside the Judeo-Christian religion often worked seven days per week. When Jews and Christians demanded the sabbath off, no matter their station in life, from rich person to slave, it created chaos and painful transformation.

It would have been much easier to acclimate, and simply diminish the need for a sabbath. No way. It was one of the non-negotiables that defined their faith. But why was it such a “must have”? In Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath, he explains, “All life has emptiness at its core; it is the quiet hollow reed through which the wind of God blows and makes the music that is our life.” Along with honoring God, the Sabbath gives us a little time each week to make room for the Spirit’s wind to blow in and through us. Faith takes time and attention. The sabbath provides that opportunity.

Some Native American spirituality includes a vision quest, with the individual journeying into the wilderness, spending days alone listening for the sacred. Muller shares that on a vision quest, “What people are most afraid of, is not so much the dangers that lurk in the wilderness, the wild animals, the darkness and cold. Most are far more anxious about having to confront whatever will come up in the empty space, when they are quiet and alone.” Like the vision quest, the sabbath provides us the opportunity to face our fears, especially death and being alone.

Today, reaffirm your commitment to the sabbath. Recognize the layers of benefit and responsibility. Along with physical and emotional rest, there is also the opportunity for spiritual growth. Pray the Spirit will give you the courage to face your fears of being alone and facing the reality of death. Further, ask God to give you the ability to affirm your trust in God’s promise of eternal life. When the sabbath’s Spirit forces us to face our fears, trust God to be with you, knowing you will never be alone.

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