In the Lectionary

September 10, Ordinary 23A (Matthew 18:15–20)

The only place in the Gospels where Jesus says anything about the church is Matthew 18—and not insignificantly, he brings it up in terms of conflict management.

If the North American Christian church goes extinct—it won’t, but bear with me—it won’t be marauding infidels or nationalistic idolatries that do it. It will be coffee creamer.

The bitterest dispute I ever witnessed began with a suggestion that the church begin buying fair-trade coffee for after-worship fellowship time. The pastor, unfortunately too distracted by preaching the gospel and visiting the sick, didn’t know about the coffee mafia (as they came to be known), nor the consequences of going against them. She gave the change her blessing.

Twelve bags of fair-trade coffee arrived soon thereafter and were set prominently next to the coffee mafia’s two R2D2-sized coffee urns. But to the great disappointment of some that Sunday, the coffee mafia refused to use the new brand.