As I sit down to write this column, we have only just begun Lent and the sermon series on Sabbath Economics. It feels a bit premature, still this column is about the sermon series that will begin on April 8 and will run until Pentecost. I’m sharing it now because (as you’ll see if you read to its end), I have a favor to ask of you.
After two sermon series that focus on the gospel and society (the Patriarchy and Sexual Violence series and the Sabbath Economics series), we will turn inward. We will use a cup as the central image in a six-week reflection on our inward journeys.
We drink from cups, so they can remind us of our thirst for God and how that thirst is quenched. We also hold cups, we fill cups, we empty cups, we wash cups. Perhaps these activities can be metaphors for our spiritual lives. With a cup’s emptiness, fullness, brokenness, flaws, and blessings, perhaps we can see our own lives.
Joyce Rupp, whose The Cup of Our Life inspires this sermon series, writes about how rich these metaphors can be: “A cup is a container for holding something. Whatever it holds has to eventually be emptied out so that something more can be put into it. I have learned that I cannot always expect my life to be full. There has to be some emptying, some pouring out, if I am to make room for the new. The spiritual journey is like that – a constant process of emptying and filling, of giving and receiving, of accepting and letting go.
“The cup has taught me many valuable lessons for my spiritual growth. I have learned that my life holds stale things that need to be discarded and that sometimes my life feels as wounded as a broken cup. I have learned that I have flaws, chips, and stains, just as any well-used cup may have, but that these markings of a well-traveled life need not prevent me from being a valuable gift for others. I have learned that the contents of my life are meant to be constantly given and shared in a generous gesture of compassion, just as the main purpose of a cup is to give its contents given away. I have especially learned gratitude for all those moments when the unexpected has transformed my life into an abundant cup of blessings.”
There’s more, of course. We will have a whole sermon series where we will explore the simple cup. I hope it will be a fruitful vehicle for our spiritual reflection. You are invited to select one particular cup to use during these six weeks. It could be a coffee mug, a sippy cup, a wine glass – any cup, really, though you might want to think about using a favorite coffee mug, something that’s part of your daily life. And you might want it to be a cup you can bring to church each week.
I’d like you to pick a cup now, and here’s why. I would like to get some photos of the cups you will be suing as the tangible metaphor generators, photos that we can use once the series begins. (This is the favor I said I’d ask of you.) To get those photos, would you bring your cup to church with you on March 18? I’ll take photos during coffee hour (and maybe I’ll get some assistance from some other photographers – hint, hint). I think it will be fun to have photos of our cups and not just stock photos of generic cups during this series.
Thanks for your help.