If you know me well, you know that I like tea. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I love tea! I love to drink tea, but more than that, I love to “go to tea”!
Have you ever been to a tea? You should try it some time. The tea, of course, is the featured delight, but there’s so much more to it. There’s a small serving of soup, a salad, tiny little sandwiches barely more than 2-3 bites big. There are scones….oh, I love the scones…..especially with lemon curd and clotted cream. Yes, clotted cream. I know it sounds disgusting, but don’t knock it till you try it. Fresh fruit accompanies the scones. Then there are these little, rich, tempting desserts….just a bite, but oh so decedent! Some tea rooms will end your tea with a sorbet to cleanse your palate. The whole experience is just wonderful. But there’s something even better than the tea and food. It’s the time spent with those you are having tea with. It’s a time to relax and just enjoy each other. You can easily visit for hours sipping tea and nibbling sweets and savories. It’s not uncommon for each participant to consume more than one pot of tea.
Today, I enjoyed a different kind of tea. I was attending a conference. The people attending this conference are all involved in camping ministry in some way. We were having tea to experience what a tea would be like in a camp setting and to think about how we could incorporate teas at our own camps. I got to participate with some unlikely people.Across from me at my table, was an older woman, old enough to be my mother. We really didn’t know each other, though we had eaten a meal at the same table before. During the course of the tea, she asked questions of each of us and we were able to tell our stories of how we got involved in camping ministry. She shared hers as well.
To my left, was the most unlikely of people to attend a tea. It was our camp cook. This was definitely a new experience for him. He inquired if he should extend his pinky to drink from his cup, as he knew this what proper English people did for tea. He began to discuss what he would prepare for a tea and began to recite a menu that sounded more like a feast than a tea. Roasted marinated pork tenderloin, baked chicken….obviously, he had never experienced a tea before. He was a bit unrefined, but did his best to participate. He asked me many questions and began to refer to me as the “tea guru”. But, during our tea, my table learned about his passion for cooking, his passion to reach teens with God’s love, his passion to be in service for God. We learned that he was a new believer, having just become a Christian in June of this past year. As he shared his story, I gleaned a new admiration for him.
To my right, was another unlikely guest. Like me, she was a first time attendee at the conference. But, to my surprise, we knew each other! We hadn’t seen each other for 37 years….we were in 2nd grade when we last saw each other. Who would have thought I’d be having tea with a childhood friend? We were surprised to learn that we both have daughters that are close in age, that we both ended up in Christian ministry around the same time. She had gone through some struggles over the years, as have I. Our lives were pretty parallel to each others. We reminisced about our 2nd grade teacher and we pondered as to what had happened to others that were in our class. The years melted away and we were 7 again!
I thought of the devotional that was offered prior to the tea. What kind of cup were we? Were we a broken cup in need of repair. Were we a cracked cup in need of some reinforcement? Was our cup empty? I thought about this as we enjoyed our tea and goodies. I thought of the differences in the people at my table. Our camp cook was recently an empty cup and was now filled with Holy Spirit. The lady across from me was once a cracked cup, and just needed reassurance that she and her husband were doing the right thing in entering Christian ministry. My childhood friend had once been a broken cup, but God had glued her back together. And me….I was a full cup. I was full with the new respect for those around me, full with happiness for reconnecting with a long-lost friend, full of hope that I too would find fulfillment as I progressed on my journey to grow in my job. Yes, my cup was full, so full that it began to overflow. I was so thankful for the friendships grown and strengthened over tea. But more than this, was so thankful that I get to serve God doing something I enjoy.
David knew this feeling when he wrote the 23rd Psalm. Verse 5 says, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; MY CUP RUNNETH OVER.” He knew the joy that comes from being in communion with God. What kind of cup are you?