On a wintry February night, the two of us sat next to each other on the kitchen bench, there at the table. He slid my birthday present in front of me.
Outside, the wind howled, whipping snow into snarling swirls.
I bit my lower lip, then peeled back the newspaper that he had used to wrap my birthday present. He sat with his chin resting on his fist, watching me, like he knew for sure he’d picked the best present a woman could ever want.
There’s a commercial that says “every kiss begins with Kay.”
I say this: every kiss begins with a cup.
Because I pulled a pottery chalice from the cardboard box, ran my finger around its rim. My chin quivered.
And then I kissed my handsome groom.
The Lord is all that I am to receive, and my cup. ~ Psalm 16:5
Again and again, we’ve dipped into that cup on this farm; we’ve filled and re-filled the cup with ruby promise. Friends have gathered here, on this same kitchen bench, and we’ve passed the cup around the table of grace. We’ve whispered thanks for amazing grace.
We’ve cried such good tears, right over top this one solid cup.
Last Friday, I carried that same cup to a table in Nebraska for a retreat; I packed the cup in my luggage, wrapping it in layer upon layer of clothing.
You don’t want to break your most precious gifts.
I have only begun to learn what the cup really cost. And how the cross changes everything– right here in my home, for sure. But also in a world racked with pain, swirling with howling storms in Boston and Philadelphia and Texas and all over the planet, really.
The world rages on, even when we beg the CNN ticker to stop.
But the cup stands firm on the altar. Firm.
The cup? It’s the most valuable thing I know – not because of what’s on the outside, but what goes on the inside. I couldn’t live without it, I tell you.
On Sunday morning, at a retreat in Nebraska, I watched as sisters and brothers shuffled forward, in one long line toward that pottery cup.
They took bread, and dipped it into that cup, that simple pottery cup, dipping into the truth of radical and appalling and very personal grace.
And it’s like this, you know –
That God would stoop so low, all the way to Earth, to save us. That our holy Father, on the throne, would send His Son to Earth to rescue the fallen ones, the ones who are the spike in His sinew, the thorn in His brow, the spear in His side. He came for us. The whole messed-up, sin-soaked, broken, crooked lot of us — tired and scared and joyless and nervous and goofed-up and half-cocked in our thinking.
What in the world was Jesus thinking?
He didn’t have to, you know. He could have whisked Himself away from Gethsemane. He said it right there in the Garden: “Take this cup from me.” But then He added this: “Yet, not my will, but thine be done.” He took the cup anyway.
So now, all these centuries later, this happens:
He still holds out a cup. Wants us to unwrap it, right in the middle of whatever storm is swirling outside the windows of our very own souls. Slides the gift across the table. Asks for a sort of kiss in return. A kiss from His bride.
This cup? It is appalling, radical grace from a God who actually loves sinners, who actually loves us.
I take home a drained cup. And have never felt more full.
(Second photo by Erin at Home With the Boys.)