Generosity in Line, on the March, or: Starbucks Becomes a Thin Place

In our Advent devotional, Embrace the Coming Light, Eddy Ekmekji and I suggest following a spiritual discipline that coincides with each week’s character and theme. This week’s discipline is generosity, following the story of the wise men. My mother’s fiance, Doug, has been reading the devotional and put that discipline into practice yesterday. As he made his daily morning Starbucks run, after paying for his order, he then decided to buy the order of a police officer behind him in line.

When Doug returned to that same Starbucks this morning, he learned from the barista that his act of generosity set off something truly amazing. The police officer whose coffee he purchased then bought the following customer’s order. That person then bought the next order. This chain of generosity continued for over eighty people and lasted from 7:15am, when Doug paid for the cop’s coffee, until 9:20am.

I find it astounding how God can use one act of grace to offer serendipitous gifts to people as well as to form their characters. For one morning, the Holy Spirit made over eighty people more generous. A busy Starbucks, full of cold, tired people wanting their caffeine fix on their way to work became a thin place, where the boundary between Heaven and Earth was more permeable and the goodness of God was more easily experienced.

Embrace the Coming Light

New Book Release, “Embrace the Coming Light: Daily Readings and Prayers for Advent”

I have co-written  a devotional for Advent with my good friend Eddy EkmekjiEmbrace the Coming Light. Advent begins this year on December 1. It is available in the Kindle format from It will soon—i.e., a couple of days—be available in paperback from Amazon as well as in other eBook formats from those retailers. All the authors’ net proceeds will go to World Vision’s relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Advent 2013 Grain Blur

Embrace the Coming Light follows four figures from the Gospel of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth: Herod, Joseph, the wise men, and John the Baptist. Readers take a journey that begins in darkness and isolation and ends in light and community. Each week includes a variety of ways to engage Scripture (inductive Bible study, imaginative reading, and lectio divina), a psalm, and writings from other Christians. Embrace the Coming Light also guides readers through a weekly spiritual discipline (a social media fast, solitude, generosity, and adoration) to help deepen the experience of Advent. The devotional has 28 days of readings and prayers and can be used with minor adjustments for Advent in any year.

I’m very excited about this devotional. It was spiritually rewarding and a lot of fun to write with Eddy. He asks such profound and deep questions. I love his constant emphasis on engaging the whole person through prayer, reading, and spiritual disciplines. And he’s a fantastic writer.