The Kingdom of Heaven is Like Unto…a Starbucks?

February 23, 2004 | 8 comments
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Jesus loved teaching with metaphors from the mundane. You remember the stories in Matthew: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed….like unto leaven….like unto treasure hid in a field. He holds up a comparison and invites his listeners (sometimes with His help) to extract meaning and insight. Imagine my surprise in a recent epiphany that the kingdom of heaven in my day is also like unto a Starbucks!

Over the weekend, my husband Chris and I were out of town. The internet connection where we were staying was abysmal. Being a savvy techno-jock Chris purchased a day pass at a “T-Mobile Hotspot” available at the Starbucks in the center of town. Perhaps you out there are all in the know about the latest advances, but I am still a relative innocent. I take most technology for granted and cannot even grasp the science behind tin cans with a string between them.

Still, I was eager to check my email. I assumed we would go to the Starbucks, stick some kind of card into some kind of machine. “Not so, silly girl,” you all chuckle. Before we ordered a hot chocolate, before we found a vacant table, Chris had his laptop open and voila! — we were connected. “As soon as you walk through the door, the power is present,” Chris explained.

I checked my mail, sent a message or two. Did my business. But I was in a slight fog of awe, an awareness of the holy. This little cave of space — scented with java and posted with the complexities of talls, grandes and ventis — was under the influence, you could say, of higher powers. The very air was filled with the potential. How does Hopkins put it? “The world is charged with the grandeur of God….”

This is like the temple, I thought. This is a place set aside, uniquely equipped, available and inviting to draw you to power beyond yourself.

Then, in my state of stupefaction, Chris informed me that this is how it works at home, too. WiFi it’s called. So, all those nights watching Law and Order in bed, Chris with his laptop and I with my cross-stitching, we are benefiting from this same mystical power? This home of ours, like the Starbucks, is a place similarly prepared, equipped, available? If I apply to our home the insights and implications of this “kingdom of God” connection, is our home a place with communication from and access to the Divine? What maintenance, management, alignment does it yet need? Do I take this for granted, too?

And what about that cave of space where my mind and heart reside? Am I aligned correctly? Am I prepared, connected, accessible both to receive and transmit the power of God? Order me up another hot chocolate! I’ve got to ponder this!

Now, of course all analogies break down – and it doesn’t take long for this one to. Yes, the power available at Starbucks’ Hotspot gives you as ready access to porn sights as to timesandseasons.org, but humor me here. Of course essentially the same principle works for all I know with those tin cans and string and microwave ovens and TVs. (While we’re at it, are there those of you itching to explore whether even entering a Starbuck’s is a violation of some ethic?) But here’s my invitation – please share your own metaphors of the mundane, your “trivial” epiphanies, your musings, your “never-would-have-expected-to-get-a-spiritual-insight-here” experiences…or just stop in to say hi.

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8 Responses to The Kingdom of Heaven is Like Unto…a Starbucks?

  1. Gordon Smith on February 23, 2004 at 1:18 pm

    We recently “disconnected” at my house, and life is very, very good. I wander around with my laptop, working (or not) wherever I please. I agree, Linda, that there is something mystical about the experience.

    The whole www is quite a mind-blowing concept. When I try to explain to my children how the world worked when they were born, they act like I grew up in the Great Depression. (Of course, that is how I treated my parents, who did grow up in the Great Depression.)

    Unfortunately, I am out of mundane metaphors right now, but I was struck by your account of your wireless experience. Thanks for sharing.

  2. cooper on February 23, 2004 at 1:33 pm

    Starbucks = Wireless = Multi-tasking at work!

    I love wireless! At home I can now, surf the web, watch tv, print wedding invites, etc. all while lazing confortably on my living room couch.

    Niirvana!

  3. Charles on February 23, 2004 at 2:57 pm

    Last year my wife and I were driving to the Black Hills, SD. When passing an off ramp to a small town we spied a man resting quite comfortably on the side of the road. No outstreached thumb, no back-pedalling as is so common in the hitchiker genre. Just a simple sign, “Rapid City”.
    Now don’t go thinking, it’s too dangerous to pick up strangers. We are well aware of that. No, we chose to go on by, not so neighborly you think? Well after a brief examination of the pro’s and con’s we decided on our saftey on the open road. Then it hit me.
    The Interstate we were on is the road to salvation, the road back to heaven. I’m not saying that Rapid City is heaven, I’ve never been there to judge.
    But here was a man that wanted to get there, but was making no effort on his own. He was sitting there. He wasn’t walking under his own power. He didn’t turn and thumb a ride when cars drove by. He was simply expecting someone to stop and pick him up and deliver him somewhere en route to his destination.
    This is just like the gospel. Christ helps us after all we can do. We shouldn’t sit idly by waiting for Christ to redeem us. We must do all that we can. Then let his grace carry us the rest of the way.
    This is my little 20-something century parable, and I hope you all enjoy it!

  4. Linda on February 23, 2004 at 3:27 pm

    Love it, Charles!

    BTW, here’s a poem I wrote recently which doesn’t have much to do with anything, except maybe the Black Hills and highways:

    RUSH MORE

    We rush more down the highways.
    The sun is getting low.
    We rush more through the Black Hills
    As fast as we can go.

    We rush more from the parking lot.
    We rush to see the site.
    The Presidents all tell us,
    “Slow down and do this right.”

  5. Bob Caswell on February 23, 2004 at 7:09 pm

    When I taught the older primary (10-11), the plan of salvation laminated cartoon layout was best taught using Simpsons characters rather than the boring regular ones.

  6. Kristine on February 24, 2004 at 10:29 am

    I don’t know if this counts as revelatory, but the other day I was walking along the beach near my house (I love saying that–we just moved to a beach town about a year ago, and I’m still amazed that I can catch a glimpse of the *ocean* from my kitchen window) when it occurred to me that if I hadn’t grown up seeing globes, and being told about the roundness of the earth, it would seem perfectly reasonable to suppose that the world ended somewhere out near the horizon–it certainly looks as though it does, and the feeling of being a very puny human at the edge of the world can be pretty intense when you can’t see anything but water and sky. I’ve sat through enough seminars on postmodern literary theory to at least intellectually assent to the notion that what we call “knowledge” is deeply conditioned by experience, but somehow being regularly confronted by that blurry line at the horizon makes me realize it in a new way.

  7. Adam Greenwood on February 24, 2004 at 10:12 pm

    Someone has finally responded to Gordon’s call for homely parables–http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000089.html. Huzzah! I admit that I think of them all the time but I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone except my wife, so I forget them all.

  8. lyle on February 25, 2004 at 12:33 am

    Adam, um…

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    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

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