Dear World, forgive me.
In my desire to share what is so important to me, so necessary, so powerful, so helpful, so true, I have neglected to notice this about you: your cup is not empty.*
Willing students, perhaps, come with polished, expectant cups. Some with them behind their backs, waiting to see if the offering is worth the sloshing that would come with the filling.
But all others who come, even the parched and those drunk on new wine, come with cups that are not empty. They are filled with what the world has already had to offer. People and places, ideas and conversations, mothers and fathers, families, traditions and cultures. So much.
If I want to pour my ideas into your cup, I need to understand what’s already there. Perhaps sit and sip a while. Have some tea and a teacake. Listen and look. Waft and taste. Touch and let myself be touched.
Only newborn children come with empty cups.
We fill them. The world fills them. With good things and love. With encouragement and praise. Or not. Oh holy Lord, sometimes … With abuse and neglect. With harsh words or impossible expectations. With hunger, loneliness, violence, despair. Lord, let us be bearers of hope for these.
Friend, your cup is not empty and neither is mine.
World, forgive me. Lord, forgive us. For our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. May we taste and see, seeking first to understand.
*Melinda Gates in her book, The Moment of Lift.
So much casting shame and guilt.
So much accusing of conspiracy and falsehood.
So much indicting for behaviors unbecoming and deeds unwelcome.
So much righteous indignation.
So much misunderstanding.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1: 18-19)
Joseph, the faithful, had every right to cast out his young bride-to-be, who apparently, was not. And yet… he grew curious about how this came to be. He questioned how it may have come about. He deliberated on the action he was about to take. He wondered if there was more to this story than he yet knew. And then,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-22)
Who am I falsely accusing?
What conclusion am I jumping to?
Where have I misread, mistrusted, and misunderstood?
How, in my righteousness, which I have called faithfulness
have I hurried to divorce – even quietly –
rather than consideration, consolation, provision?
Where, in my failure to be curious,
have I rushed to the … and now!
rather than abiding in the … and yet?
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.