My title, I confess, is misspelled. The correct spelling, however, would lose the sound, and hence the meaning. It should read “‘ce cuppa”, not “Scupper”. Told to me many years ago by the speaker’s daughter-in-law, it was apparently a frequent expression of a self-made, and largely self-educated, man. In his working life he was a professional gardener and in later life, after an afternoon’s work in his own garden, he would suggest to Rose, his wife, that it was time for ‘a nice cup of tea’.
Tea, as many of my readers will readily acknowledge, has many properties. It can be the source of refreshment – as in the case of that gardener – or of stimulation or energy. It’s often the vehicle by which neighbours will get to know one another. Although in recent years tea has perhaps been overtaken by coffee as the drink of invitation, the truth remains that to share ‘a cup of something’ is a good way to deepen an acquaintance or to share – or even resolve – a problem.
A cup is also a euphemism, a shorthand if you will, for the burden of office. It’s a way of expressing succinctly the complexities of a task or challenge that is faced by someone in the course of their life.
There are Biblical precedents for each of these examples, each of which provides food for thought in the direction of drawing us closer to our Lord.
Jesus wasn’t thinking of tea or coffee when he said (John 7:37), “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”, and I don’t think the psalmist was referring to a drink when he wrote, “Lord You alone are my portion and my cup of blessing; You make my lot secure” (Ps. 16:5).
When it comes to giving a cup of friendship to those in need, we have to acknowledge that members of the Salvation Army offer the best example. They can comfortably rely on Jesus’ promise, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matt. 10:42).
When James and John, supported by their mother, sought prominent places in the Kingdom to come, Jesus challenged them, “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” (Matt. 20:22), and when that time came to Him, Jesus spent a night of agony in the garden of Gethsemane and asked, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39).
And what is my point in reciting all these? I recall a particular moment in my life, where Jesus’ plea in the garden provided the words for my own prayers, and prompted me to turn to Him to see me through a frightening situation. How often in our day do we turn to a cup (yes, or a mug) for a refreshing drink? How great would be the improvement in our lives if, at all those times, we were to remember our Lord, and commit to Him whatever might be on our minds just at that moment?