"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward."
Dwight Lee Wolter
In congregational tradition there are two sacraments: baptism and communion. But it seems there is a third: Coffee Hour. I am not belittling the sacraments. It simply seems that Coffee Hour is another indicator of communion and belonging. Coffee Hour can be ho-hum or a vibrant, boisterous and truly intergenerational extension of the service where people are standing, sitting, eating, talking, reading, signing up for opportunities. Often I yell "Last Call!" just to get them out so we can finally go home. You can't fake a spiritual presence.
Members gently invite visitors for coffee and cake before they can slip out the door. Many decline at first, feeling good to be invited, though not quite ready or able to participate, but they usually return for church and fellowship.
In baptism God comes to us. In communion we come to God. In Coffee Hour we come to each other. We break a different bread and share a different cup than we do in communion. We use different water than we do in baptism. We touch the same souls in a different way. Do you want to feel "a part of" rather than "apart from" the congregation? Do diligence to Coffee Hour and watch the multiplication of the loaves and dishes.
Be with and guide us in all we say and do, and in all the ways in which we gather to know, celebrate and honor you. Amen.
Dwight Lee Wolter is the pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York, and the author of Forgiving Our Parents and Forgiving Our Grownup Children.