I went to Starbucks this week to study for Sunday’s sermon and took my Greek New Testament with me. When I put it down on the counter to pay for my coffee the guy at the register said, “Why are you studying Greek?”
“Because I’m a pastor,” I said. “I’m a Christian pastor. We tend to preach from the New Testament and the New Testament was originally written in Greek.”
“And Aramaic,” he said, knowledgeably.
“Um, yeah…I guess. But this is a Greek New Testament so it’s mostly just…Greek.”
He told me that he had studied Latin in school–five years! You’ve got to watch these Starbucks baristas. You never know what kind of skills or knowledge they might bring to the job. And being around all that coffee seems to stimulate their thinking: some of my liveliest conversations have occurred right there at the point of sale, as I hand over my card and wait for a receipt. There we were, talking about the Greek and Latin languages as he pushed my coffee cup toward me.
“By the way, Christ is risen,” he said, as I turned to go. It was Christian “code” language, a secret way of saying, “I’m a believer, too.” It dates back to the first century where it was almost certainly whispered in Greek—“christos anesti!” I stopped in my tracks and turned back to take him in, this young, bearded barista who had just revealed himself as my brother in Christ. He was grinning, and for a moment I was tempted to say something smart like, “By the way?” But before those words could come out of my mouth those other words came, the traditional response to the traditional Easter greeting. I raised my coffee cup, smiled, and said:
“Christ is risen indeed.”