Offering the cup



Ever since I can remember, I have been drawn in my spiritual life to the imagery of the cup. Many years ago, I attended a retreat that used the cup as a metaphor for our life. Since this experience was so rich for me over the years, I, too, have used Joyce Rupp’s book, “The Cup of Our Life,” in many different ways with many different ministry groups. I have always found that this imagery seems to speak to people; it makes a connection. I tend to believe this is the case because it is a common practice for each of us – old, young and everyone in between – at some point during our everyday lives to find ourselves encountering the cup.

Last year at this time, I attended an online conference entitled Magnify. The conference involved a series of presentations, each on a specific section of the new Directory of Catechesis. Not surprisingly, the presentation that was very meaningful for me was given by Becky Eldredge on Evangelization; and yes, you guessed it, she used the image of the cup to speak of the movement (process) of Evangelization.

I am not sure if this rings true for you; but for me, I hear the term evangelization often. I understand what the term means and what it calls me to, but I often find myself questioning what this really looks like in the everyday. The imagery of the cup used by Becky lay a challenge before me, but it also brought with it clarity and a renewed confidence that God will provide what is needed for me – and all of us – to live as witnesses.

Becky spoke of evangelization and the transmission of faith in terms of “quenching others’ thirst.” We all thirst for cup of “living waters” because it contains all we need – unconditional love, acceptance, belonging, intimacy, mercy and God’s boundless promises. As Disciples of Christ, we are called to the mission of offering the cup we drink from to others so they, too, might be satisfied. There are three cups we offer.

The first cup involves being present to another and paying attention to the immediate needs of another. What is on their heart? What might we provide? Is our help found in the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy?

The second cup holds the assurance of our walking beside them. A longer walk begins when those we walk with begin to acknowledge their thirst. This walk is taken at a slower pace, and much is shared along the way – our stories, the kerygma, prayer (discovering our inner chapel) and the Word of God. As this journey progresses and the stirring of the Holy Spirit is felt, one begins to recognize the presence of God in their life, and also acknowledges that drinking from the fountain of living waters has been transforming and life-giving.

Becky calls the third cup the “to-go cup.” We send people forth with cup in hand to offer it to others. Their cups are filled with the many gifts and graces God has given, and they are now called to be present to the communities they are a part of.

When Christ returned to the Father, he left us the Holy Spirit, who emboldens and empowers us. He makes available to us all the gifts and graces needed to continue Christ’s mission. By no means is it easy to be a follower, a witness, to offer the cup; but make no mistake that this is what is being asked of each of us every day wherever we are. Let us pray for one another as we are being called forth.