Thursday, October 26, 2006

Holy Ground Cafe

I took a seat in our local cafe the other day across from these gentlemen, one black, one white. I snapped a picture while they were deep in conversation. And just for a moment I thought, this is holy ground, the kind of place Jesus would hang out...nuetral ground at the cross roads of culture and although there is a kind of informal protocol, it's without pretense or agenda. How many places like this exist in our communities, do we know whre they are?

Ray Oldenburg, in his book Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories About the "Great Good Places" at the Heart of Our Communities, explores the contribution of cafes like this. I found one comment on the book interesting:

"Dr. Oldenburg helped me to understand that when good citizens of a community find places to spend pleasurable hours with one another for no specific or obvious purpose, there is purpose to such association. One of these places is, of course, our cafe environment. We provide an informal public gathering place which is not and can not be supplied by any other agency in the society."

Oldenburg positions "third places" beside home and work. I wonder... Knowing that the church is people (we have to keep reminding ourselves), what would have to change to make the church qualify as a third place? How could we create these wonderful, highly-engaging 'front porches' in our community?


  1. It seems to me that the key word is "neutral." The church is not seen as a neutral place for conversation. But that begs the question, what is the "place" of the church? If we can ever shed the mentality that the church is the place we normally associate with it, then we can find creative places where the Church (as in, "I am the Church, you are the Church, etc.") can incarnate Herself as a holy presence. In this environment, Christians can provide a bridge between the neutral environment that is required for honest conversation and the other-worldly perspective we bring to the table that elevates the conversation to another level.

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  3. Yes, the chruch as a presence rather than place would be a more accurate description. Since we are now the Body of Christ we manifest God's presence. And so Jesus continues to incarnate the world through us.

    This is one facinating thing to meditate on! Make a list of body metaphors: eyes, ears, hands, feet, mind. We all understand the concept of God touching the world though our hands, speaking through our mouths, but imagine this, God choosing to...

    ...listen though our ears
    ...see throuh our eyes
    ...create through our minds

    It starts with the question, What is God interested in today? Where does He want to go? What does He want to do today?

    These questions are so intricately entwined with who we are, our gifts and our desires, because that is how and why He created us, how he wired us for purpose. That is the nature of the adventure which is the normal life of a follower of Jesus.