Cafe Vista was short staffed yesterday afternoon and so Jacqui, her metatarsal mostly mended, and myself headed down to the Ministry Centre. When you are short staffed, you will have anyone.
At this point you need to realize that I have form as a café helper.
Way back, in the days of my Lower Sixth, I worked one entire holiday in the cafeteria at the now demolished Exchange Station in Liverpool. A hugely important part of my education. I can still remuster the smell – a powerful mixture of bacon fat, tobacco and soot (from the Scottish locomotives). I’m sure that anyone who regularly dined there has long since digested their last bacon and egg breakfast.
So an enjoyable afternoon in the Ministry Centre serving the customers, washing dishes and clearing tables. I still have some of my old techniques, like taking the customer’s plate just before they have finished or removing their personal canderel. It’s part of the job satisfaction.
Even so Cafe Vista is a great success story, thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of the whole team. All kinds of people come to enjoy the atmosphere with the fascinating view and the fine fare – especially those who may feel isolated or lonely. It feels like Christ Church open all hours. I think we would be surprised if we knew how many customers pass through each week.
I aim to go there most days to work the tables, introducing myself as Ross the vicar. It’s a great way of getting to know people and an opportunity to share the gospel.
Just last month we had a shared meal one evening for those who are finishing our present Alpha course (#39) and the new PCC. A strange mixture, like chocolate and mint, which worked brilliantly. Members of the PCC took it in turns to introduce themselves while some from Alpha shared their story.
Eileen from Waterloo told us that driving along the A59 to work in Burscough she saw the Cafe Vista sign now prominent at the end of the Ministry Centre – and decided to call in for a coffee. Somehow she got into conversation and signed up for Alpha – even that meant a regular 25 minutes drive. Through doing Alpha she became a Christian and is now a member of our most recent Beta group. PTL
But clearly Cafe Vista has its limitations, not least that most of our customers are either over 50 or young mothers with children. We get the occasional younger man, like one guy yesterday who came to take advantage of our free Wifi.
So we long to expand, not least to Saturday mornings so that we can make contact with young adults. We need more people to serve. And serving, of course, is at the very heart of our Gospel. It was Jesus who told his stunned disciples “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:27)
For when we serve at tables we are serving in Jesus’ name. It is what he would do and that is why he longs to serve through us. To quote the apostle Paul directly: “If your gift is serving, then serve!”
So how about it?