In his recent book: "The Gospel according to Starbucks", Christian writer and professor of evangelism, Leonard Sweet, tells of a sermon he once preached . When people entered the church they were each presented with a paper cup with a solitary coffee bean in the cup…..Not just any coffee bean but the most expensive coffee bean in the world … €250 a pound. This Coffee called Kopi Luwak is sold by the ounce and only about a thousand pounds of it reaches world markets every year. It comes from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia in a region known as Java. Sweet tells how he encourages the congregation to smell and taste the bean – a very chocolaty taste apparently – and then he tells them more about the bean.
Kopi, he says is Indonesian for coffee and Luwak is Indonesian for the civet cat which has a role in harvesting the bean. The civet cat is a very discerning feeder and only selects the best of coffee cherries to eat. It then defecates the undigested coffee cherries in sausage-like links and they are harvested by the local farmers who wash them (Very well one hopes) , dry them in the sun and send them to the exporters.
Having told the story, Sweet comments that only one person had to leave the church in a hurry to throw up their coffee bean!
I contemplated using this illustration in my Easter sermon this year but thought better of it - just in case :-). But it would make a superb illustration of the story of Easter.
Why you might ask?
Well the Kopi Luwak Coffee is not the only example of how God works to transform what we consider disgusting and worthless into something truly wonderful. As Sweet goes on to point out
Honey is passed through Bees - He calls it Bee Shih Tzu! ; In Asian cultures the white make-up that women wear is made from bird droppings; Mushrooms grow best in you know what!; Wine is the product of rotting fungus; Jesus grew up in a place of which it was said with disdain: “Can anything good come from [Nazareth]?”; He was born in a stable in dirt and squalor; He was crucified on the city dump of Jerusalem….he died with smell of rubbish in his nostrils and yet out of this came the RESURRECTION! When we consider that we must surely realise that there are grounds for the HOPE that is in us as we look forward to that glorious day.