Giving A Cup of Cold Water


During the seasons of “Pentecost” and “Dominiontide” which covers most of the summer and early fall, we change the order of worship to a “Casual Service.” A Casual service for us at Covenant means that we ditch the robes and take out much of the liturgy which makes for a more “Casual Service.” What many may not know is that in liturgical churches it happens a lot. That’s because the two seasons of “Pentecost” and “Dominiontide” are known as “Ordinary Time.”

During the “Ordinary Time”, the assigned scriptures do not have one overall theme. Each Sunday takes its theme from one of the other assigned reading for the day as a standalone theme.

This coming Sunday, that theme is “Giving a Cold Cup of Water.” That cold cup of water can be a literal thing or it can also be a spiritual metaphor for giving a person a spiritual drink to satisfy a spiritual thirst. When St. Martin, a Roman soldier, gave his cloak to a beggar dying of cold, that was a literal thing. When a member of our church, this week, spoke to his very ill father about how the grace of God works in our lives, that was a spiritual cup of cold water.

By the way, did you know that the word “chapel” comes from the Latin word CAPELLA, which means “cloak.” According to tradition, the word originated with the story of St. Martin’s act of “Giving a Cold Cup of Water” in the form of his cloak to a beggar dying of cold.

St. Martin’s cloak became a relic and was kept in a building that soon took on the cloak’s name, “CAPELLA.” In France, the word became CHAPELLE, and in England it was CHAPEL. Doug Peterson, in the book “Many Are Called,” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), says that “However you pronounce it, a chapel is a cloak of God for poor beggars such as us.” And because we know ourselves to be beggars where the grace of God is concerned, we do not shun the beggars of this world.

Pardon the mixing of metaphors, but I rather like my Mom’s spin on this. She would call spiritually what we do by “Giving a Cold Cup of Water” to a thirsty person, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find some bread.”

Join us for a “Causal Service” at Covenant this Sunday, and let’s learn together what it really means “Giving A Cold Cup of Water.” Oh … and I’ll also be sharing the story of how that young man in our congregation gave his very ill father a spiritual cup of cold water this week.

The sermon is based on Matthew 10:40-32.


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