Some years ago I spent a number of weekends away with friends. Each Friday when we met we started our evening meal with something called Baraka. I had no idea what that meant, other than what I would mean by saying grace. Interestingly I didn’t ask.
Currently I am in the closing stages of working with a coffee shop called Baraka in a small town outside Leeds. It’s only now that I am making the connection and realizing that Baraka means much more than I surmised.
Derived from Arabic and Hebrew, Baraka literally means blessing. But like so many ancient words the Hebrew Berakhah has a far deeper meaning than any one English word can convey. Berakhah is a prayer of blessing recited at a specific moment during a ceremony or special occasion. It is a way of acknowledging together that God is the source of all blessing. Berakhah holds a sense of gratefulness for God’s full and rich generosity. It carries within it the essence of sacrament.
At the heart of the Baraka Coffee House is the intention of its Christian owners to bless their town: to build community, and to provide a welcoming place for the lonely. That is what they do. Observing and listening to customers and staff, collecting comments, even analyzing statistics, shows that the welcome extended to those who simply come in for coffee does indeed bring blessing.
Baraka Coffee House is a remarkable demonstration of God’s love and generosity, expressed through open hospitality. It is a tangible acknowledgement of God as the Source of all Blessing: a real Berakhah