Coffee and Cancer: A Letter to West Franklin

Coffee and Cancer: A Letter to West Franklin July 24, 2021

West Franklin Family,

I love coffee. Always have. Ever since the day my dad’s dad poured this little boy a cup and let me add the sugar (as much as I wanted) I have never been the same. At first, I could care less what was in the cup. Folgers. Maxwell House. Taster’s Choice. Didn’t matter. As long as I could add sugar and milk – I was good. Later on I became a Starbucks snob. It was all I would drink. I added less (much less) sugar and milk, but it was Starbucks. Today, I spend way too much money on coffee because I have, sigh, become a very arrogant and highfalutin coffee geek. But I digress. I love coffee. I love it by myself. I love it with friends. I love it in the morning. I love it with my Bible open. I love it during meetings. I love it while driving down the road. I love it at church on Sunday morning’s. I like it cold, but would much rather enjoy it hot. I love coffee.

I hate cancer. Always have. Ever since the day this little boy attended the funeral of his best friend’s mother who died of the dreaded disease, I have never been the same. Though there are (so they say) numerous causes of cancer, as of yet, there aren’t any cures. As a pastor, I am exposed to many diagnoses. Some get the dreaded news, “terminal.” Others hear, “it’s bad, but there’s a chance.” Still others, “you’ve got cancer, but it’s the ‘good’ kind.” Some have very little side effects and are back to normal in no time. Others endure horrific treatments and recovery before they go into remission. And, yes, still others do not recover. I hate cancer.

But I have to tell you that both of these – coffee and cancer – converged together beautifully on Sunday. Donnie Parker (who I wrote about on December 19th, 2020) and his wife Dee showed up early last week. Dee and Donnie, with his peach fuzz of a hair style going on (due to treatments) and fully masked (due to ongoing precautions), showed up to make and serve coffee for West Franklin. Go back and read that again. Donnie Parker – who is still not completely out of the woods – showed up early last Sunday in order to make coffee for you and me. Donnie, who is still pretty weak and probably gets weird looks for “still” wearing a mask, came to church to serve us coffee. And guess what? Both he and Dee were smiling about it! They were happy! They were thrilled to be there, able to serve. They were full of joy at simply being able to attend. They were eager to make others smile with delicious brew.

I love coffee. I hate cancer. But I REALLY love(d) this. Why? Because Dee and Donnie want to be here, want to serve, want to make West Franklin better, and desire to see us reach our full potential to the glory of King Jesus. Coffee and Cancer came together to demonstrate the power and presence of Spirit-filled people. Which, unless I am mistaken, is what a church is. What a church does.

What if what makes a church truly special is a group of people who approach it, not from a position of what they get, but what they give to make it better? What if church was about joyfully surrendering personal agendas in order to joyfully serve the other right in front of your face? Donnie could have easily thought, “I am not totally healed yet. My hair is still really short. My immune system could be compromised. I am still pretty weak. I hope the church serves me and my needs today.” No one would have blamed him for that. But that is not his (nor his wife’s) approach. Instead, it’s “Yay! We get to join the Body of Christ today! We get to do what we are able to do to make West Franklin the best it can be!”

West Franklin, if we are ever going to reach our full potential – it will be when all of us approach our roles as seeking to serve; not seeking to be served.

I love coffee. I hate cancer. But I gotta tell you: when both of these came together last Sunday it made me smile. When Jesus changes people, well, a church happens.

Can’t wait to smell coffee in the AM with you,

Pastor Matt


Tomorrow we will wrap up the Jonah “I’m Not Convinced” series. My Bible will be open to Jonah 4 – “I’m Not Convinced I Really Want To!”

We will also observe the Lord’s Supper in both services.

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