A little cafe nestled in our neighbourhood closed its doors this month. Their business model was sound—a cafe opposite a primary school with an indoor playground that’s open from the crack of dawn. It should have been a roaring success in our rapidly expanding young families corridor.

On driving by and seeing the darkened interior and ‘closed’ sign in the window, a twinge of sadness inspired  bittersweet memories. The barista always smiled and remembered my order as I would stumble in bleary-eyed with a toddler and baby in tow.

A Desire To Connect

The owner was an interesting man who on occasion annoyed me with his foul language around the kids. Once, on a rare date-brunch alone with my wife, he pulled up a chair next to our table and began asking about our take on some political situation or other, oblivious to his interference. On another occasion, friends from church shouted us lunch and we had a brilliant time catching up.  

Over the cafe’s three-year existence, my toddler became a preschooler and my baby became a toddler, conquering the padded steps into the ball pit that would surely have toppled and swallowed her just months earlier. The staff and my friends all bore witness to the children’s transformation. 

No relationship is perfect. Our relationship with ‘Play Cafe’—as my son dubbed it—had its lovely moments and its frustrating ones. I hadn’t realised the significance of the cafe and its staff in our lives until they were no longer there. As I drove by that day, I recognised the intrinsic pull each human has to connect, to be known.  

As I drove by that day, I recognised the intrinsic pull each human has to connect, to be known.  

I missed the barista and her welcoming service. She saw my capacity for interaction was limited after a sleepless night and was able to serve me a healthy slice of dignity along with my large flat white. I missed the cafe owner and his gregarious, potty-mouthed nature. I hoped he was okay after losing his business and I recognised that his desire to build connections is what likely drove him to intrude at times. I missed my generous friends and sent them a message to plan a time to get together again.

Every Relationship Matters

Every relationship we have matters to God, even the ones that seem insignificant. When Jesus was asked by a teacher of the law which was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded:

'"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments"' (Matthew 22: 34-40). 

Jesus showed the teacher of the law that keeping God’s command to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love others (Leviticus 19:18) is central to living in the new Kingdom Jesus was establishing. Jesus demonstrated this love to many whom society had deemed unworthy of inclusion, such as the Samaritan woman in John chapter four and the man with leprosy in Mark 1:40-45.

But Jesus displayed this most profoundly at the cross, where he was crucified to make a way for all people to return to relationship with God. Jesus practiced what he preached, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15.13).

Yet, the profound goodness of Easter does not end there.

Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope that the grave does not have the final word. It’s possible for things to live again, including relationships we thought were buried. 

A Time To Reflect

At Easter, we remember that Jesus has invited us into a shared life with God and with one-another. As we pause to adore Jesus across the various stages of the Easter weekend, let’s also pause to reflect on relationships on the fringe of our lives.  

Who are your baristas? Who are your annoying cafe owners and your generous but distant friends? Take some time to give thanks to God for these people and to ponder how you might nurture these relationships before they, like Play Cafe, could be gone.