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  • Writer's pictureNerd Pastor Nate

Coffee Talk Does Church Better Than The Church

So - I generally try to only do games, movies, and anime that are trending and new in order to hopefully catch the hype and show people that these nerdy sermons are ‘with it.’ But there are plenty of older stories that are precious to me that I just don’t get to do videos on because of this rule. But this week it was announced that a young up-and-coming game dev passed and they just so happen to be the ones who created one of these slightly older favorites I was just referring to.

So in a way to honor the legacy of Mohammad Fahmi, we’re going to devote today’s sermon to the somewhat niche, somewhat viral indie sim, Coffee Talk. Now what could a multi-dimensional fantasy coffee shop have to offer us in the real world as how we can be better people? Let’s talk about it.

Intro Clip

Welcome to Checkpoint Church - where nerds, geeks, and gamers come together to talk about faith, games, and wishing I could drink coffee during the midnight hours. I’m your Nerd Pastor Nate. If you like these weekly deepdives, be sure to sub and hit that bell to find out when our next one drops.

Romans 12:3-9 (NRSV)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

So first we have to ask - what on earth is Coffee Talk?

Well, if you haven’t played, I greatly encourage you to give it a shot. It’s a cheap game and is a really fun story to be told.

The game follows a barista who is the owner and sole employee of Coffee Talk, the titular coffee shop.

The story is set in a fantastic re-imagining of Seattle, Washington populated by a broad variety of fantasy races, such as elves, orcs, mermaids, and others.

Throughout the overarching story, various members of these races serve as the shop's patrons with little self-contained stories or stories connecting to the larger plot being told.

The game's plot is experienced over the course of two weeks, with each day acting as a vignette as folks visit the coffee shop to discuss their concerns with the barista and amongst each other

And what a wacky cast of characters it is…

There’s Freya, a fairy woman and a journalist for the fictional newspaper The Evening Whispers who also aspires to be a fiction writer; which is a mood

Jorji, a local cop who visits the coffee shop regularly;

Rachel, a former member of a girl band who is trying to start a career as a solo musician and her dad Hendry, who was a former big name in music industry that now wants to protect his daughter;

Neil, an alien visiting Earth with the mission of breeding with its inhabitants;

Hyde, an immortal vampire who works as a model and former employer of; Gala, werewolf and veteran who worked as a body guard for Hyde and now tries to heal himself by healing others;

Neil, an alien visiting Earth with the mission of breeding with its inhabitants;

Myrtle, an orc working on the fictional game "Full Metal Panic" and very work oriented; Aqua, an octopus girl who is extremely shy but extremely passionate about advancing technology, indie game developer, loves of the "Full Metal Panic" series;

Neil, an alien visiting Earth with the mission of breeding with its inhabitants;

and a young couple consisting of Lua, a succubus, and Baileys, an elf, whose families do not approve of their relationship due to their racial differences.

And of course Neil, an alien visiting Earth with the mission of breeding with its inhabitants; I mean come on - this game is weird, wild and wacky and I just can’t help but love every minute of the charm of this crew

From it’s lo-fi chillhop music to it’s charming 8-bit art, the game is a real masterpiece that I think is worth experiencing.

The end of the story goes to some wild spaces that I won’t spoil in this video (because I want you to go and play this game) but for this video I want to focus more on the vibes of the game and how successful this team was in creating a realistic experience

It won’t take long into the already too-short game to feel immersed in this world. You see everything through the eyes of the barista, never actually getting to see the barista. The barista says very few things without allowing you, the player, to choose what is said, so you really feel like it’s YOU that gets to interact with these characters

Not to mention that the characters really do feel like they are naturally interacting with one another like real people do in everyday life

You find yourself rooting for Freya to make her deadline for her fiction book submittal. You want to help Lua and Baileys work through the family drama between the two of them. You even want Neil to come across as more normal, or at all normal, in order to have a successful mission with the species of Earth. At least I wanted that, maybe I’m weird.

But again - what really sets this game apart is that the other characters also seem to be rooting for each other. They come across as character that don’t really know each other until they meet in the coffee shop and then they form bonds and get to know one another and then they want to support one another, sometimes even butting heads in that support

It’s this camaraderie that brought me to our scripture for today, so let’s talk about that.

The passage for this video comes from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the early church that was about to be formed in Rome. Paul wasn’t sure if he would be able to do his usual shtick and go to personally forge the early church in the area. He wasn’t entirely certain if he’d be alive from all of his imprisonment to make it in time

So he writes this kind of Christianity 101 course that we get to read in the book of Romans. Romans 12, in particular, has become a pretty infamous passage out of this letter given some of Paul’s challenging ideas presented

But in this passage, Paul isn’t saying that should be challenging - it just is because of our human proclivity to divide from one another

This chunk of scripture is an attempt to explain to the early church in Rome what it means to be the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is Paul’s preferred term for those that have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s more than just being a part of a community - it’s a calling to be a part of one greater body formed in Jesus.

In this body, Paul says, it’s vital that no one member think of themself as being more than any other member - and certainly not any higher of themself than they deserve.

Instead, it is important, to Paul, to consider the obligations assigned to each member of the body, but not to see it as a hierarchy. The teachers should be given proper respect for teachers, the prophets for prophets, the leaders for leaders, etc

In this way, all members of the body don’t serve the same function, but, by working together, the whole of the body is made better for the respect and grace offered to one another

Individually, we are members of one another. We are both specialized AND integrated. Membership and individuality, all at once.

Then Paul ends this concept with a simple thought - let your love be genuine. Stay away from evil things and hold on tight to the good things.

What is Paul doing here? Like I said a moment ago, our natural tendency is to divide and try to create tribes within our culture. It’s no mystery that the church failed on this front - or at least has the potential to fail.

Division with the church is as natural a thing as ever - we have plenty of denominations in the Protestant movement of the Christian church and they are only expanding as we continue forward.

That makes Paul diatribe all the more important. We can keep making as many denominational divides or personal divisions as we desire to make - but the true test comes with how we are being part of the Body of Christ. That is something that should not be divided

We all bring with us vital and different pieces of the puzzle - whether they all look the same or not. The hand should not say it has no need of the foot, as Paul might say.

So what does this have to do with Coffee Talk?

Well, to be honest I can’t think of a much more palpable example of the Body of Christ literally being forged before our very eyes than in this game

We have a literal ‘third space’ in the form of the coffee shop, this means that it’s not the comfort of home, nor is it the expectation of work, for any of the patrons. This space is instead a third kind of space where organic and intentional community can be formed

And formed it is, we have vampires, werewolves, fairies, mermaids, succubi, orcs, cat people, etc etc etc - all of these very different people all gathered in one spot. Some of them are game devs, some of them are retired, some of them are aliens, some are nurses, some are models, these are drastically different characters from drastically different walks of life - and they are all coming together in one central location and creating something together

Where else would a vampire model be able to weigh in on the racial struggle between two species marrying that seemingly shouldn’t have met in the first place?

Where else would these antics ensue other than in an intentional third space? A place that is welcoming, comforting, and, at the very least, serves good hot bevvys.

See, the church has made this fatal flaw of worrying about huge worship services, electric guitar, Nord keyboards, tight skinny jeans, preacher with sneakers - and we’ve missed the forest for the trees.

We don’t even HAVE a worship service here at Checkpoint yet. We aren’t rushing things. We’re providing a third place first and foremost where people from completely different walks of life gather together.

That’s why Coffee Talk is so important to me in particular. This is my life. I get the incredible gift of experiencing the best parts of this game IRL. I get to sit on this side of the screen, putting together streams and nerdy sermons - in the meantime, I get to watch you get to know each other and love each other.

Against all odds, we have people at Checkpoint from across the world, across social divisions and economic divides, across age gaps and expectations, across interests and passions and hobbies - it’s all there and it’s all beautiful.

(if we get permission)

To better prove this point, how about we hear this from the words of someone other than me…

There Is a Family Here

By Kristina Perdue

After Jamaal May and Clint Smith

For the Checkpoint Church Discord

There is a family here,

a family that spans cities, states, and countries. And no,

not the kind of family that judges or criticizes, but a family

that celebrates their differences,

welcoming new members with open arms. And no,

not arms pointed accusingly

pointing out flaws or starting arguments.

The kind of arms that are open and warm,

making you feel loved and seen

with every voice chat or message sent. And no,

not the kind of message that traps,

that the sender regrets instantly,

but the kind of message

that praises and uplifts

bringing light and joy to every day.

Shots are fired, but not the kind that hurt.

Only debates over ice and doors,

wheels and obscure board games,

and whether Nate will win this MarioKart race or not.

There is a family here,

not the kind that will leave or waver,

but the kind that will be here for you forever.

I mean, come on, folks! It don’t get much better than that. The truth presented in Coffee Talk is a truth that we’re living out every single day at Checkpoint and that’s why it’s such an important game to me.

(skip if we don’t get permission)

Whether the game devs realized it or not, they perfectly presented the Body of Christ in an example better than the church itself presents nowadays.

What can we take away from this? Just know that God wants so much more for us than stodgy worship services or rules and parameters. God longs for holy community with us. God longs to see the Body of Christ built up with nerdy, nerdy folks like you. You are so welcome here and so longed for by God.

Whether you’re a werewolf nurse, a catgirl seeking their purpose, or a fairy trying to make it in the novel business, let me be the barista that welcomes you through the doors - you are vital to the Body of Christ and always welcome at Checkpoint Church.

Question: Who would you most like to be friends with from Coffee Talk? I have a bit of a crush on Lua, but she’s a succubus, so maybe that's not my choice. It’s Freya, it’s obviously Freya. I wanna be her so bad.

God loves you.

We love you.

You matter.


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