It was the first crisis in my first church where I was the senior minister (okay, I was the only minister).
The woman settled into the chair on the other side of my desk and cleared her throat to talk and I braced myself to wrestle with the weighty issues of the Lord’s business.
“Where’s the coffee?” she said.
I didn’t understand. “You want a cup of coffee?” I said.
“No, I mean where did the coffee go?”
I was still confused. “Did you lose your cup?” Sometimes I misplaced mine and had to search for it. Maybe I wasn’t the only one.
“No! There was a large can of coffee in the cupboard in the kitchen, and now most of it has gone.
I want to know what happened to it.”
“Maybe somebody drank it?” I offered.
“But that’s a lot of coffee! I want to know what happened to it. Who took it?”
That was the big crisis.
An awful lot of church business has been about issues on this level. Missing coffee, crying babies, unwashed dishes, and unwashed youths.
I am amazed and dismayed at how much time and energy I have had to spend on the silly stuff. Sometimes I laugh. Other times I pull my hair.
Now that I’m older and sort of wiser, I realize that this woman was probably distressed about other things unrelated to coffee. Missing beverages are just easier to worry about.
I wish I could redo that moment and say something like Jesus might have: “Martha, Martha,” he soothed his friend, “You are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary.”
I should have hugged the woman, told her how important she was, and asked her how things were going at home. That would have been a more Christlike response which could have resulted in real ministry.
By the way, we never caught the character who copped the coffee. So the coffee caper crisis was never cracked and remains a cold case to this day.