In the Seattle Times today, there was a great story about neighbors loving each other with a sacrificial and sweet kind of holiday gift. In Marysville, a town about 45 minutes north of Seattle, a woman started a giving trend at a local Starbucks drive-thru. Inspired to love her neighbors, she paid for coffee for the people in line behind her. The car behind her was so touched by her gesture that they did the same, and so it continued, to almost 500 customers blessing their neighbors with coffee (click here to read the story). By the evening, numbers surged to over 800 people who paid for their neighbor’s drinks, sometimes well beyond the cost of a cup of coffee. Our local ABC affiliate did a story for the evening news on it, which you can watch here.
You might think that coffee isn’t much of a gift, and I suppose in comparison to ministering to an AIDS patient in Africa, it doesn’t quite have quite as much of an obvious impact. However, we can’t neglect the importance of giving gifts to the people in our towns, to those we work and serve with everyday, the people we meet on the street and might not know by name but with whom we share a common home and community.
Giving generously to your neighbor is biblical. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). If you’re treating yourself to a cup of coffee or a donut, why not purchase one for somebody else, especially someone you don’t know very well? Anyone can bless a friend, but it takes God’s love to bless a stranger.
I have to confess that this doesn’t always work well for me. At the place where I get my car serviced, there are a few vending machines with snacks and sodas. I typically get the munchies and get something while I’m waiting. I always offer to purchase something for the people who are waiting with me, and nobody has ever taken me up on it. I’m not sure if it’s because people have a hard time accepting gifts from strangers (maybe they’re too cynical and expect a catch of some sort), or maybe I’m just overvaluing the vending machine products. I’ll keep trying, but I’m not expecting any takers anytime soon.
I’d love to read about more coffee giving trends happening as a result of this one news story. Wouldn’t it be great if this became a holiday tradition?