Coffee Stains

One day while setting up the chairs in the church auditorium I took note of some of the stains in the carpet. Whenever we see a new stain it always comes up as a topic of conversation in staff meeting. At times it has been debated weather we should ban coffee from the auditorium altogether. The conversation of stewardship and caring for what God has given to us inevitably ends in a decision to keep the coffee in favor of maintaining a welcoming place of worship. As caretakers of the church building, at times spills and mistakes can become an irritation. After all, we are all adults… how is it possible that we have so many spills? How many times will we have to clean these carpets? But this afternoon I came across one stain in the carpet belonging to my son. I recalled the Easter event where we let the kids play with dyed eggs. Who would have thought that old Easter eggs still had pockets of dye in them?

Looking around I saw other stains and I began to think about the people who regularly sat there. Perhaps the stains belonged to those individuals. Maybe they were left by a guest or maybe a person no longer at our church, I don’t really know where each of the stains came from. But all of them got there because of us… the human element. The carpet that had once been brand-new now was full of visible signs of our mistakes. The carpets are cleaned a couple times a year but some of the stains just do not come out.

This day I was grateful for the stains. Some might just see the mess, but I see the place where my family gathers. Where all of us with our spills and mistakes get to come together and worship Jesus. This is the home of Westside Christian church where the redeemed gather every Sunday to worship together, take communion together, and seek the Lord in His Word together. I love the people here and I would never turn any of them away over spilled coffee. Today I am reminded that Jesus does not bar those who are stained, he does not turn us away because of the mess we bring in, He just wants us to come! I love the words of Revelation 22:17 “the spirit and the bride say, “come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” These words in the final chapter of Gods word reveal the heart of our most high God, the lover of our souls. He tells us to simply come. These words in Revelation fulfill God’s promise in Isaiah 55 to come and buy without cost. We can do this today because Jesus has paid our cost so that we might return to the way God intended in the garden. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve the garden and told them to eat of it. Free and without cost to experience the richness of His creation. God delights in lavishing his love and because of Christ, we have a way back to that love. In John 14 Jesus promises that when we come and put our trust in him, He will make his home in us, stains and all. What is even more amazing is because of Christ in us, the father does not even see our stains. They are removed as far as the east is from the west. I Love the lyric in the song by casting crowns song that says “how far the east is from the west…from one scarred hand to the other” showing us that Jesus embraces us… sin and all in those scared hands. This is not to say we now have a license to sin. And in the same way I would not expect to see anyone in our church intentionally pour a cup of coffee on the floor to test our resilience, so we do not continually labor in sin to abuse the work of Jesus. Not because anything we do could mar his work or take it away, but because as we gaze into Jesus and see the beauty of his work, we are swept up in it. Transformed and made more and more into his likeness so that when the heavenly Father looks on us; it is as if the father looks on a masterpiece, like the Sistine Chapel, or Buckingham Palace. Because when he looks at us, he sees Christ. When I think now on those stains, I am reminded of the scars that paid for them. Sin no longer holds shame and regret, all my past stains are a reminder of the beautiful scars that paid for them, the joy set before me and the reason I praise the name of Jesus.

Thomas Hartung

Pastor of Worship and media arts

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