Monday, July 3, 2023

Even a Cup of Cold Water


Matthew 10:40-42

Proper 8 / Year A

Jesus said, “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple-- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Lu Mascaro decided to attend a religious discussion group the evening after she quit her job.  Although she did not know any of the members and felt a bit exposed, she sensed a need for support and encouragement.  She writes,

From the moment I stepped into the house everyone was welcoming. The discussion was interesting and respectful, and I felt myself relax.  Then suddenly, someone asked me if there was anything I wanted to share.  Without hesitation and with a quivering voice, I poured my heart out.

While I was talking, someone opened the door.  The dog barked. People got distracted.  I instantly felt ashamed and self-conscious, with an urge to hold my breath and not disturb anyone.  Was I too boring?  What was probably only a split second played out in my head like a film scene in slow motion.  My daze was interrupted when a woman across from me gently called my name.  Looking directly into my eyes she said, “I’m listening.”  I could feel myself breathe again.

A cup of water.  Attentiveness to another.  Simple gestures matter, don’t they.  Mark Twain once said kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.  And when you speak this language two things happen.  First, someone else is blessed.  And second, you become a better person for it because, as Jesus teaches, one of the great paradoxes of life is the more you give yourself away the richer you become. 

At my dentist appoint last week, Beth Bagley was bragging about her grandson Landon.  “Do you know what he did the other day?  We were watching TV and he got up and headed toward the kitchen.  ‘Grandma’, he said, ‘can I get you something to drink?’”  I thought about that for a moment or two and then said, “Over the course of my entire life I don’t think I have ever said those words.”  Landon’s simple gesture of thoughtfulness and Beth’s story about it got me pondering much about my self-centered life.

If giving a person a cup of water leads to an eternal reward, what other simple gestures might we do to make another person’s world brighter and better?

Google this question and you will discover number one on every list is write a thank you note.  I am pleased many of you have adopted a Chanco staff person for the summer.  I am already hearing how much it means to them to know you care and you are praying for them.  I spent yesterday with our international staffers and was delighted to learn Wanda Rector wrote a note to each of them after hosting them last weekend.  Marty Wilson has adopted one of the international staffers and that person beamed a radiant smile when I asked her if she had gotten her card yet.

Number 2: Tone down aggressive driving.  If someone uses a turn signal, give them the space to do what they need to do – especially truck drivers.  Newsflash, no trophies are awarded to interstate drivers who pass the most cars.  It is meant to be a place where we all cooperate in order to ensure everyone arrives safely to their destination.

Next, let a mother with small children go ahead of you in a checkout line.  Parents have a lot on their minds and a lot of balls to juggle.  Any small kindness you can show to them means another drop or two does not get added into a bucket already overflowing. 

Here is something which goes a long way – compliments and expressing appreciation.  I have said before churches are gratitude factories.  A few of us here are paid to do what we do.  Still, your kind words go a long way to helping us realize our efforts are worthwhile and make a difference.  Everything else in our church happens because someone volunteers to do it.  A pat on the back in recognition of peoples’ contributions has real value.

A final idea… share a positive experience on-line, especially for great service from a local business.  Social media can be a bad news dumping ground and being exposed to negativity takes a toll on us all.  Why not use your voice to turn it into a blessing garden where people who follow you and see your posts are reminded there is goodness – and lots of it – in this world!   

Researchers have found a person who offers a gesture of kindness to another tends to undervalue its impact on the recipient compared with how the recipient rates what it means to him or her.  Marisa Franco, a psychologist and author, contends “We have a negativity bias when it comes to social connection.  We just don’t think the impact of our behaviors is as positive as it is.”

I don’t know how Jesus did his research, but long ago he decerned the same thing.  Whoever gives even a cup of cold water…  I will leave you with this from Robert Lewis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”  Seeds are small things, aren’t they.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to spread them, just intentionality.  Go and do some sowing.