Because I see here a widespread longing for connection. Other words for what I mean by “connection” might be community, belonging, acceptance, relationship, friendship, etc.
In particular, if you take a stroll through the village of James Bay, south of downtown Victoria and right next to the parliament building, you will notice a common addiction: coffee. There are a lot of coffee shops in James Bay’s village centre. The more popular places seem to be,
- Serious Coffee
- James Bay Coffee
- James Bay Cafe
- Discovery Coffee
I’ve logged quite a few hours in most of these shops. I see people come in with groups, as couples, by themselves. I see people wait for someone else to join them, bury their head in a book or screen (laptop or tablet), or sit and watch others. But why do people come at all? One reason must be because they want a meeting place. But for those by themselves, why then come? Why not make a pot of coffee at home? Or, if the quality is the issue, come out, buy a cup of coffee and return to drink it in the comfort of their own home? I have no real way of knowing why people do this, but I can guess. I think it might be that being in a busy place, where relationships are happening, where hot drinks and comforting food are available, where a warm ambience can be found, people feel a bit less alone.
I’ve talked to some locals about what they see as desirable about James Bay. Something all of them have pointed out is that people can come here to live and find that regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or economic standing, they find James Bay to be a place of tolerance and potential inclusion. As I sit and write this, some people at a table next to me are discussing some community needs. The local community organizations have lots of posters up about community events involving things like arts and crafts and live music. I think it might be fairly common that people live in James Bay hoping to have more connection in the future than they presently have, or than they might have had in the past. And I think that’s why there are so many coffee shops in this small little village. Because the residents of this community are willing to spend their money on a cup of coffee in search of the idea of community. I feel the same way.
The way I see it, this is a natural entry-point for the Gospel.
…Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…
(Ephesians 2:12-19 ESV)