Offering a cup of cold water may not seem like much, but to someone who is thirsty, it is an act of grace and renewed life. The teachings of all the major religions agree that we should take care of those among us who can't take care of themselves. In fact, universal hospitality along with love and compassion could bring about God's Kingdom on Earth here and now.
"The Bible makes it clear that the measure of a great society is how it treats its poor," said Rev. Austin Murray of Trinity-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in Kihei. "In the Bible, Old and New Testament alike, the poor are seen as agents of God's transforming power," he said. Exodus 25 says, "If your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate."
The four Episcopal churches on Maui are proposing an initiative to respond to some of the most basic needs of the poor and homeless on this island. (See "Cup of Cold Water: Community Care Van" on page 5.) "This effort is inspired by Jesus' admonition that praises anyone who, in his name, 'gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones,'" said Rev. Murray.
A Cup of Cold Water
"Having spent significant time in ministry outside of New York City, I've seen successful care van ministries in action," said Rev. Kerith Harding of St. John's Episcopal Church in Kula. "Not only do they positively impact the lives of those who are served, but they can be transformative for the volunteers who participate as well," she said.
We are all called to take the cup of cold water that was offered to us and, in turn, offer it to others. "In the Episcopal church, we promise in our baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being," said Rev. Harding. "Helping people get a few of their simplest needs met is part of this. The other part is working for systemic change, so that tomorrow, fewer people are hungry or homeless than today."
"When we go out to do God's work, a very simple and small success is a deep and genuine blessing," said Rev. Marvin Foltz of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku. "It brings the reward that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 10:42:" Today, this week and throughout our lives, let us make it a priority to offer a cup of cold water to all who thirst, physically and spiritually.