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Entering Starbucks and Finding Worship

starbuksA few years ago, Starbucks frosted their front doors with the slogan “Take comfort in Ritual.”  The slogan suggests that the rituals that adorn our lives provide the needed peace and comfort in an otherwise frenetic world.  The morning stop under the green tarp is not just an exercise in commerce or consumerism but an act of self-care.  The morning coffee (plus the afternoon coffee, the 3:00 pm coffee and the 6:00 coffee) are the means by which an individual reminds themselves of that which is truly important and meaningful in their lives.  As this slogan occurred in the winter months, it was not too hard to see an interesting cross over into the life of the church.

Well it seems as if Starbucks has done it again.  This time the slogan reads “Create Wonder.  Share Joy”

What is intriguing about this slogan is the manner in which the words on the frosted glass call the individual into an act of participation. The customer does not simply order a drink, they create an experience.  Starbucks is a master at this marketing ploy.  The entire routine (or ritual) of Starbucks centers around creating an atmosphere in which the consumer is feels indispensable to the experience.  The current trend of printing the customer’s name on the cup furthers the idea of personalization.  What is made is not just ‘a drink’; it is your drink.  Even if there are multiple drinks of the same type, the act of calling the name leads the customer to believe that the barista prepared that drink specifically for the name printed upon the cup.

My parish currently has a prayer-shawl ministry.  As each prayer shawl is intricately knitted together, the knitter prays for the one to receive the shawl.  Every knit, pearl, or stitch is prayed over.  I often wonder if people view that same dynamic with the making of their custom beverage.  On some internal and almost spiritual level, does the customer believe that they were personally in the mind of the one who intricately fashioned their drink?  If so, is it any wonder why Starbucks customers are so vehemently and enthusiastically faithful to that coffee choice?  I would argue that this is not about the coffee itself, but about feelings of wonderment and joy.

There is almost a spiritual communion that occurs between barista and customer, a communion in which the customer is indispensable.  The one coming into Starbucks is not merely called to experience wonder, but to create it; to join into the drama of the production; to infuse the experience with their own sense of personality, expectation, and dreams.  The call to ‘Create Wonder’, then, does not simply apply to the drink made from syrup and espresso.  Just as the individual costumer is wonderful, the experience they create is also one of wonder.  Purchasing one’s personalized drink is seen as an act of wonderment just as the one who ordered the drink is a person of wonderment.

Of course, the experience doesn’t simply stop there.  For the other call of the slogan is to ‘Share Joy.’  Starbucks is never content with one’s individual experience.  The act of self-creating wonderment is one which is to be shared and offered to others.  The joy received as one sits with coffee in hand is a joy that is made for all people.  And so the customer becomes an evangelist desiring others to live within the wonderment and joy of the Starbucks experience.

Again, like the slogan that went before it, it is hard not to see certain cross-overs with the life of the church, particularly in terms of its worship life.   How do we encourage people to cross the threshold of our doorways and join in the creation of wonderment and joy?   Have we focused too much on the church being a place where a parishioner ‘attends’, instead of a body in which one is called to participate?   Sometimes I hear people invite others to church with the words ‘come hear our choir’ or ‘come listen to our preacher.’  These calls, as well intentioned as they are, leave the individual as a passive recipient of the church’s activity.  Yet the worship of the church is not to be something that simply occurs around us as we sit in pews and sing our hymns.  Worship, indeed the very life of the church, is not something that we merely receive.  This is to make the church like Tim Horton’s.  We enter the building, having chosen what we would like to receive.  We receive it.  We leave.  It’s hard to find a whole lot of participation in this.

The call of the church is deeper than that.  The call of the church is to create wonder and share joy.  It is to actively participate in the creation of the dynamic body of which we are an indispensable part.  It is to understand on a spiritual level that the worship of the church is created by our involvement.  Our very selves are bound up in the active expression of what it means to be the church in the world.  This means that the worship of the church is not something simply in need of our presence; it needs our active participation and our self-offering.  Only then do we create the wonder of worship so infectious that it cannot help but leak out of us and spread throughout the world.  Only when do others see the wonder of God in which we are actively engaging can the joy of that reality be shared to others.

So, whether you drink from Second Cup, Timothy’s, Tim Horton’s, or another chosen coffee institution, take up the call issued by the frosted glass of Starbucks:  Create Wonder.  Share Joy.

How can you take a more active place of participation in the worship of your church? What does it mean for you to “Create Wonder” in the church, in the family, in the world?

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on
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