Friday, September 2, 2016

A Cup of Hospitality

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Give generously to your needy brother and do so without a grudging heart. – Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV)

If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. – Matthew 10:42 (NIV)

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 105:8–15; Judges 16,17; Luke 22:14–23

Jesus chooses "a cup of cold water" as a symbol of hospitality, of welcome and support for someone who is doing his work. That image has come to mind for me many times over the years! When Sheryl and I were discerning about whether to start on this path; all through the seminary years; in my various roles in the church; in each congregation I've served; in the communities we've lived in; among the people who helped Sheryl and the kids; from strangers and friends and family  in all these situations, people have given us gifts of hospitality that have kept us going.

Most recently, I thought of this verse as I ran a 5K last weekend for prostate cancer awareness and research. Partway through the run, a group of volunteers stood holding out paper cups of cold water for the runners. In a run that short, on a day that wasn't that hot, we all would have been OK without the water ... but it was encouraging, and appreciated, to have it ready for us. I took a cup from the youngest volunteer, a girl of about nine. I drank most, spilled some on my shirt, and kept running. I hope she also felt encouraged, knowing that giving her time and effort had helped someone.

In the Luke reading for today, Jesus mentions another cup, the cup of the new covenant in his blood, poured out for all of us. Already having been connected with "the lamb that had to be sacrificed" for Passover, Jesus gives the ultimate cup of hospitality. With the new covenant, whatever hunger and thirst we face, whatever exhausts us, whatever human needs we have, God meets us there and helps us keep going.

In this spirit, we continue the race. And we take our place as people who have the privilege of being able to help someone else keep going. May we see those needs, and give a cup of cold water when we can, and encourage and be encouraged.

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