Starbucks has been in the press a lot recently over a design choice. Traditionally November is the start of “red cup” season at Starbucks as they begin their journey into the holiday season. This year, however, is causing a stir.
Joshua Feuerstein is a minister and has millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. He and his backward red MLB hat take to the Internet in an effort to “rally” others to his point and his theological framework. He has ranted on subjects like evolution, same-sex marriage and even Target’s decision to make their toy section gender neutral.
Recently he took to the Internet to complain about Starbuck’s “attack on Christianity” in this so-called “era of political correctness.”(video above) In Feuerstein’s mind, the removal of snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen and the like is akin to trying to remove Christianity from the public sphere. His solution? Instead of telling the barista your actual name, tell them your name is “Merry Christmas” (so lying is ok?) in an effort to “force them” to say “Merry Christmas” to you.
This argument of a hostile corporate removal of Christianity is one that has no basis; Christianity is not under attack from a coffee company or any company for that matter. Sure I do not like the commercialization of Christmas but not having “Merry Christmas” on a cup or a Christmas tree in the mall is not something I worry about, it doesn’t prove or disprove my faithfulness, it is not a threat to my relationship with God and Christ.
The story of the birth and ministry of Christ is not Starbucks’ (or any corporations) story to tell. This story of the coming of the Messiah is one of all people of the Church to tell through their life, their sharing and their embodying the teachings and actions of Jesus.
Starbucks’ previous red cups did not have “Merry Christmas” emblazon on them and the company still sells “Christmas Blend” coffee and even has a Advent Calendar. So just because the words “Merry Christmas” do not appear on the actual cup, this is an attack on Christianity?
The problem is Jesus is not found on the outside of a red cup from a multi-national coffee chain. If Jesus and all that Jesus stands for is not found at the bottom of a bottle or in prescription medications, then why would Jesus be found on a cup?
Jesus is found in places we would never expect.
Jesus is found at bed 57 at the homeless shelter.
Jesus is found at the bedside of an ICU room or at a hospice.
Jesus is found in the glassy eyes of a single mom receiving food assistance for the first time from the local food bank.
Jesus is found in the undocumented worker who harvested the food we eat.
Jesus is found when people of faith set aside their theological differences on Sunday mornings and strive for a more just and loving society.
Jesus is found in the laughter of children.
Jesus is found in the cool wind of fall.
Jesus is found where ever the faithful for God gather to worship.
Jesus is found when we give.
Jesus is found when we serve.
Jesus is found when we love unconditionally.
Jesus is found when we liberate.
Jesus’ love, grace and mercy cannot be confined to a single Sunday or even a red paper cup.
We cannot and should not limit the movement and presence of Christ to the four walls of a stained glass building or even a red paper cup.
If we are going to claim to be Christ’s followers then how we work, where we serve, the things we give need to emulate the ministry and movement of Jesus the Christ.
Having a barista write “Merry Christmas” as your name on a red paper cup for your triple venti toffee nut latte is not helping the cause of Christ. Rather take the $5 you would have spent on yourself and give it to someone who needs it is the definition of selfless giving and the gospel.
So the next time you are in Starbucks and you order a drink in their pretty red cups, do not look for Jesus on the cup, look for the Jesus in the world around you; you never know where you might see him.