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That First Cup of Coffee

Scripture: Luke 21:20

Every kitchen and hotel room in the United States has one thing in common, a coffee pot.

Not all the same, but the pots all make that first cup of coffee most people think they need to start their day.

As I enjoyed my cup of coffee this morning, I thought about the cup of Salvation, given to every one of us who believe in the risen Savior, Jesus the Christ.

We tend to take that cup of coffee for granted; it will be there wherever we are, but how often do we think about that cup of Salvation that is also there no matter where we are?

During this season of Lent, let us remember that Jesus prepared that cup for each of us with his shed blood, providing deliverance from guilt and the power of sin for us.

As we enjoy that first cup of coffee, let us remember the grace and mercy given freely to each of us but paid in full by Jesus our Lord to all who believe.

Prayer:

Help us to remember every day the sacrifice you made for us and the wonderful gift of the cup of Salvation you provided for each of us. Amen.

Doris Hedrick, Natural Bridge, VA


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Scripture: Psalm 116:17

The dancer took her place at the front of the sanctuary.

Her body was loosely bent, her head bowed, and her arms draped lightly to her sides.

As the pianist’s notes and choir voices joined together, “…Fill My Cup, Lord…” began to reverberate throughout the sacred space.

The dancer stretched and raised her right hand in a graceful upswept arc to the left; then, in a moment, with her left hand mirrored the movement to the right, the emerging shape of a chalice could be discerned in the air.

During the following minutes, the dancer illustrated the prayerful words of the entire song.

The congregation’s worshippers, long accustomed to the gifts of vocal and instrumental music, were moved to both hear and see the plea for filling sustenance and the hope for overflowing wholeness.

The rhythmic movement of fingers striking piano keys, the range of vocal inflections and facial expressions, and the expressive choreographed steps attested to hours of practice and planning attuned to innate abilities and learned skills.

As the concluding chord and last syllable rang, the dancer’s final pose fixed, the offering lingered; indeed, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving was made to the Lord.

Prayer:
Thanks be to you, O God!

We are forever grateful for your sacrifice of love poured out in Jesus.

Let our offerings of time, abilities, talents, material resources, and constant prayer be a sacrifice of thanksgiving from our hearts to yours.

In Christ, Amen.


Kathleen Overby Webster
McGaheysville, VA


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Cup of Blessing

Scripture: Psalm 16:5a

A cup may be full of blessings or curses.

Read on to drink from the cup of blessing!

They canceled school. Instead of doing homework I went sledding.

As I returned home from sleigh riding in the new-fallen snow, Mom handed me a steaming cup of homemade hot chocolate.

What a cup of blessing!

When the Hebrew people lifted a cup of drink to their lips, they tasted blessing.

They drank from a cup of abundance as the fruit of their land flourished, blessed by sunshine, rain, and protection from their enemies.

For short, King David says, “The Lord is …my cup.” 

The Lord is the Shepherd who provides the cup.

A cup was also a cup of judgment in the Bible because Israel fixed its desire on things other than God alone.

As such, the people must drink this “cup of his wrath.”

Every one of us has set our hearts on things other than God.

For this, the punishment is the cup of His wrath.

Now, we celebrate the cross and resurrection because Jesus drank from the cup of God’s wrath freeing us from the punishment for our sins.

Now, the cup Jesus offers is the cup of forgiveness for sin.

The cup of his curse became the cup of our blessing.

Drink from his cup of blessing today!

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for drinking the cup of the curse that I may drink your cup of blessing.

In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen. 

Tom Thomas
Forest, VA


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

The Cup of Blessing

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:16

Cups are an essential part of life.

A cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

A cup of hot chocolate that warms us on a chilly day.

In our churches, we use cups to celebrate Holy Communion.

We recall legends that knights of old went on quests for the Holy Grail, believed to be the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper.

Despite never being found, tales persist about what happened to it.

The Bible often uses the cup as a metaphor for suffering.

Isaiah speaks of the “cup of his wrath,” meaning punishment for disobedience.

Also, Ezekiel speaks of the “cup of horror and desolation.”

Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing great pain, prayed, “Father, if you are willing, let this cup pass from me.”

Again, a cup symbolized anguish – a life or an experience of difficulty, pain, and bitterness.

But not always.

Sometimes it is a cup of blessing.

Such has been my good fortune to experience.

Reflecting on the blessings I have enjoyed: a family I cherish, countless friends who have blessed my life, and a church that has enriched me all along the way.

Psalm 23 best describes my feeling: “My cup overflows.”

Prayer: O God, in this Lenten season and every season, make us grateful for the countless blessings we enjoy and the strength you provide to face difficulty when it comes. Amen.

Hasbrouck Hughes, Williamsburg, VA


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

The Cup of a Carpenter

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11

In the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy takes up his father’s lifelong quest to find the actual cup Jesus used at the last supper, the Holy Grail.

In doing so, he also hopes to rescue his dad from his Nazi captors.

There’s a scene near the movie’s end where Indy must pick the True Grail, with eternal consequences: life or death for himself, as well as his father, who lies dying from a gunshot wound in the outer chamber.

Naturally (as the hero), he chooses wisely, selecting a well-worn earthenware cup from among dozens of jewel-encrusted gold and silver false grails, saying, “That’s the cup of a carpenter.”

(I recommend watching this scene on YouTube when you get a chance.)

While Indiana Jones’s character is often flamboyant, he also exhibits humility, especially at critical times, such as the scene I described above.

Like Indy, I occasionally draw attention to myself unnecessarily.

Not so sure about the humility part, though.

For that, I look to the author and perfector of the faith (Heb. 12:2 & Eph. 2:8), my trustworthy Savior, Christ Jesus, who humbly emptied himself unto death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).

To me, the cup of Salvation is one of humility.

May I be reminded to drink fully and joyfully from it daily. 

Prayer: Lord, gracefully help me to be humble like you, more and more each day. Amen. 

Charlie Stribula, Woodbridge, VA


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Generous in Grace

Mary Elder, Newport News, VA

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

When I think of a cup, I think of how God has poured and continues to pour mercy and love out for us.

One of the most beautiful parts of this thought is when we receive God’s mercy and blessing, we cannot help but continue to pour out that love and abundance on others.

It overflows out of our hearts into our communities.

The past couple of years were full of uncertainty, loss, and grief.

In light of all our world has experienced, it struck me that sacrifice and Salvation can feel too close to home and challenging to comprehend.

We see so much hurt in our world and are hurting deeply, ourselves.

While God’s comfort, grace, and Salvation remain constant, who we are and what we have to give has changed.

I think of Paul’s description of the Macedonian church – that in suffering and poverty, they remained open-hearted and shared what they could while trusting in Christ.

It is a reminder that God’s mercy and compassion for us are abundant blessings, no matter what our lives hold, and are gifts we can share with others with open hearts.

Prayer: God, we ask through joy and abundance, and even trials and loss, you remind us of your presence and the hope you offer in our lives.

We are grateful for blessings and ask you guide us to share your love in all the ways we can.

Amen.


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

All Things New

Bob Brooks, Fredricksburg, VA

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am writing in turbulent and frightening times. Perhaps any writer in history could say the same, for life on Earth continues to be challenging. Yet, the season of Lent comes again, inviting us into self-reflection and thanksgiving.

One spiritual practice I missed during this pandemic was the sacrament of Communion. Before, my wife and I often served the Lord’s Supper at our

church. I experienced something deeply mystical while looking into the faces of our fellow believers and sharing the cup and the bread. In those moments, I felt Christ’s love and light radiating from me.

Paul wrote of us being a new creation in Christ. During Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross and his sacrificing his body and blood for us. In sharing the cup at Communion, Christ reminds me of His great love for us and our Salvation.

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

Perhaps this Lenten season will renew our opportunity for face-to-face Communion. When we do, let us again give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast mercy and grace. Our human life here may have its share of heartache and struggle, but if we belong to Christ, we have the assurance of new creation

and eternal life. “The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” Thanks be to God!

Prayer:

Lord, we thank you for your great, abiding love for us in every moment of every day. Amen.


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Raise Your Glass

Regina K. Carson, Chesterfield, VA

Scripture: Psalm 116:13

When our smallest grandchild was two, her older brother and sister taught her the gesture of toasting using her little plastic cup.

One day when she came to our house, without anyone noticing, she went into our china cabinet and picked out the largest goblet she could find.

Triumphantly, she entered the room where we were and raised the glass to us all.

Everyone scrambled to get the breakable glass away from her, but the joyful look on her face was priceless.

In today’s Scripture, we learn that the ancient Hebrews lifted a cup of Salvation to God in response to all he had done for them.

It seems like an odd custom, but it makes me wonder – how do we celebrate God’s goodness to us?

Raising our glasses in praise?

What about praying before our meal? Telling others of His wonder?

Or do we feel compelled to give special donations in response to answered prayers?

Do we thank Him every night for the blessing of His presence with us?

When He looks down, does He see joyful looks on our faces?

We need to find our largest goblets and raise them to the Lord!

Prayer:

Father, we thank you for our many blessings.

Please teach us how to praise you.

Amen.


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Allowing “It” to Happen

Kelly Desclos-Estes, Glen Allen, VA

Scripture: Romans 12:1-3

I first entertained the idea of “giving up something” for Lent in graduate school. I gave up bread and sweets.

I have to admit it didn’t mean much. I simply waited until the following Sunday to have my “treat.”

Years later, my minister suggested a true Lenten sacrifice takes creativity and commitment.

“Whatever ‘it’ is, it needs to hurt.”

We must ask ourselves, “What can we give that can compare to the pain and suffering Jesus experienced?”

I thought about what I could give. Attention? Discipline? Time? All of the Above?

Since considering Lent to be a time of sacrificial love, my outlook has changed.

I joined book groups, completed bible studies, and became a Stephen Minister.

Each season, I listen for God’s direction. Most often, a situation presents itself which requires my response.

Ironically, these are the times when “it” hurts.

At church on Easter Sunday morning, I feel a sense of inner peace and am in awe of God’s power and desire to see me through the rough patches.

Prayer:

God, our Father, help us reshape the image of what a Lenten sacrifice can be.

Guide us to be more giving and less consumed by habit and routine.

Make us more willing to direct our energy and use our talents to do Your will in our communities and the world.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

Amen.


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors! 

Plastic Cups and Dinner Rolls

Chris Suerdieck, Emmitsburg, MD

Scripture: Psalm 118:29

I am reminded as a clergyperson whenever I raise the cup during “The Great Thanksgiving” in a worship service, I am lifting the “Cup of Salvation.”

When the pandemic dictated attending church online, I questioned how to offer Holy Communion.

I grieved I would not receive The Lord’s Supper in the foreseeable future.

However, I came to believe God is present in online worship services.

For months, I poured grape juice into tiny plastic cups, put a dinner roll on a plate, and carried them into our home office.

Whenever the “online pastor” offered the prayer over the bread and the cup, I would break a piece of the roll and hand it to my husband, saying, “The Body of Christ broken and given for you” and after that, I handed him a cup saying, “The Blood of Christ poured out for you.”

He would do the same for me. It was a blessing to us both.

We received it with thankful hearts remembering that wherever two or three gather in Christ’s name, Christ is present.

During Lent, may we all reflect on how God in Christ through the Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways, even throughout a computer screen during a pandemic!

Prayer:

O God, we bless you for always being present to us.

Grant that we may continue to give you thanks, remembering your goodness and steadfast love, which endures forever.

Amen.


A daily Lenten devotional reprinted with permission from The Society of St. Andrew to inspire help sharing nourishing food with neighbors in need. 

Every $1 donated provides more than 40 servings to those in greatest need. A donation of $47 for the 47 days in Lent provides more than 1,880 servings. 

What a way to celebrate the resurrection of hope and lift the cup of salvation for our hungry neighbors!