How we read at Network

At Network Coffee House our business is to build relationships with the guests who come to spend time within our walls. Our effort is not only to show a little hospitality to the poor, but to become friends with the people who walk through the door. 

Often it goes without saying but you might wonder, well, "Why?"

In part the way we relate to others in our community comes out of who we understand Jesus to be. Christ compels us to look, to see—to read—in a certain way. Because of who we know Christ to be, we read the Bible through the lens of the overshadowed ones—the over looked and irrelevant. 

Then the question becomes, how do we read society? Christ compels us to read society also through the lens of the over looked and irrelevant. 

And lest we forget, there is also a personal dimension to our time at Network. We ask ourselves, how do we read our own life? The answer: Christ compels us to read ourselves through the overlooked and irrelevant parts of our own story. As we enter into kinship with the challenged folks who come to Network, we're forced to come to terms with our own challenges, our own irrelevance, our own poverty.

In August, Network will welcome to Denver Fr. Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries and best-selling author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship. We find a common spirit unites our work in Denver with Fr. Boyle's work in Los Angeles: a spirit of kinship, of love, of seeming irrelevance—the spirit of Christ.

Please visit our Eventbrite page for more information and for tickets. All proceeds go to support the ministry of Network Coffee House.

He Apologized First

Recently we held a memorial for Phil, a long-time member of the Network community. As we went around the room for a time of open sharing Sam quietly expressed, “He was my best friend. We had a lot of fights but Phil always came back and apologized first.”

He apologized first.

Throughout this year one of the strong themes around our community has been the grace and power of friendship. I’m convinced that the gift of friendship is the mortar that holds the bricks of Network together.

In my best long-term friendships there are times when I have contributed to a fracture by saying or doing something careless or offensive. Strong friendships require the work and discipline of forgiveness and reconciliation.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul encourages the community like this, “Be kind to each other, be tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ forgives you.” (Eph. 4:32)

One of the pastoral tasks around Network involves setting boundaries. When a guest compromises the safety and dignity of the community we have to give them a time-out. But as we do this, we always invite them to come back and reconcile with the person or people they’ve offended. Humble efforts at forgiveness and reconciliation are central disciplines within any beloved community.

Asking forgiveness can be humiliating. It makes us feel vulnerable and powerless.

What does forgiveness and feeling vulnerable and powerless have to do with Christmas? Christmas reminds us of how divine power chose to enter earthly existence… in the form of a vulnerable baby. In fact, the way Jesus came into this world and exited it was in a very powerless expression of humility. Both Christmas and

Easter reveal that vulnerability—being willing to change for the sake of love—is the route toward long-term redemptive relationship.

In the business of forgiveness here’s a sample of the questions that allow the rubber to meet the road:

“How have I hurt you?”

“Has there been a time when I’ve shut down your voice?”

“Do you feel heard by me?”

Asking these questions then opens you up to hearing responses that are not easy to absorb. This is the way of friendship – the way of Christ.

If we’re interested in keeping the Christ in Christmas let’s start by strengthening our friendships through the work of forgiveness. How sweet it would be to one day hear these words, “…he always came back and apologized first.”

A most joyous and meaningful holiday to you and yours.

You are seen. You are known. You are loved.