Lake Ridge Community Church in Chestermere, where I serve as one of the pastors, comes out of a rich and generous Swedish tradition. While you may still find a few ‘Petersons’ or ‘Andersons' around today, most people who are a part of our community are not Swedish at all. In fact, the Covenant Church is today one of the most ethnically diverse church denominations in North America. For all of this, we give much credit for the health of our church to the Swedish gift of hospitality that was passed down to us. Yes, we love our coffee!
Sharing a cup of coffee with others might seem like a small thing, maybe just a passing activity, and certainly not a world changing practice. But good things happen when we stop, rest, look each other in the eye, and find a moment to listen. This is the philosophy behind the Swedish practice of Fika. Fika is about pausing and connecting with people. It is, as Emile Odback says, a time to chat, connect, relax, find comfort, listen to others, enjoy coffee, snacks, and conversation. It is both simple and revolutionary. Fika is about re-ordering our lives away from the frantic, lonely, disconnected, fearful, and sterile challenges we face, and inviting in new rhythms that focus on how we were made to interact with our neighbours. Faith, hope, and love emerge when we spend time enjoying life with others. It is surprising what a cup of coffee can do.
Today Sweden is among the happiest and most productive countries in the world. Education outcomes are high and crime is low. While Fika might not have a direct bearing on these statistics, Swedish culture certainly embodies values that give place for human interaction and well placed moments of rest. This culture has also produced livable and welcoming neighbourhoods. The new Skärvet neighbourhood, for example, was built around connecting people of different ages and interests. It is meant to be a place for people with families, students, the elderly, renters and owners to live close by one another. With plenty of green spaces for people to interact, as well as a school and businesses built right in, this model of neighbourhood development reinforces the belief that neighbourhoods are better when we know each other and make time to share parts of our lives with others.
Creating intentional practices of hospitality in your life may be your next step and an important way to create new hope and vitality in your neighbourhood. The six rules of Fika might help you:
• Slow down
• Turn off electronic devices
• Be Social
• Never Fika Alone
• Eat Treats
• Get Comfortable
May you discover a new rhythm of life in your neighbourhood by showing hospitality to others. May your moments of rest become doors of life and a welcome to others. You do not need to solve the world’s problems, but your small act of rest and friendship over a cup of coffee may do more than you know in remaking what is broken and mending what is divided. Fika anyone?