John 4 v 7 – 14
Our Cup Runeth Over
Back in 1966 when I first met my wife Jean, her mum had tea, coffee and biscuits delivered to her door by a company called, ‘Ringtons’. When Jean’s mum and dad moved to Derby in the late 1970s, then so did Ringtons and they still continued to deliver tea, coffee and biscuits to their doorstep. After mum and dad both passed away I didn’t have that heart to cancel the Ringtons fortnightly visits, so guess what? They still deliver to me, it is almost a tradition. Obviously the van has changed and the driver, but the nature of the service has still remained after all these years.
I don’t know if they still supply loose tea any more, but as they supply speciality teas it is quite possible that they do, although I have tea bags.
I think there is something about a cup of tea that is refreshing, even on a hot day, re-assuring when you need to think through a problem and also the panacea to any state of emergency. No matter what the crisis may be, the first step in rectifying the situation is to put the kettle on for a cup of tea.
As a young man I always drank my tea and coffee with both milk and sugar, however, when I left school and started work, invariably building sites were devoid of either milk, ( that was not ‘off’) or sugar so my taste changed to having both beverages without any additives. One thing that I do find unacceptable is tea made in a cup and not in a tea pot. At home I have a very small tea pot for use when I am by myself and I always make the tea in the pot and pour it into my cup. To me it never tastes the same when the tea bag is placed in the cup and the water added, however, I don’t go through the very British procedures of warming the pot first before adding the tea and the final hot water, or making sure that the water is still boiling when poured on the tea, or any of the other idiosyncrasies that go with making the perfect cup of tea.
I understand that in some Eastern cultures making a cup of tea is quite a long and elaborate process which results in a very small cup of tea. Some techniques involve letting the boiling water cool slightly to allow oxygen back into the water, or pouring the tea from a great height to achieve the same result. At the end of the day it is all down to a matter of taste and as we are all individuals our tastes differ.
For example, before noon I tend to drink tea but after noon I usually drink coffee. This differs from other members of my family who require coffee at breakfast to kick start the day. Other aspects can influence our tea drinking experience and the taste. Does filtered water make a better cup of tea than tap water? Does the shape of the cup or mug affect the taste of the tea? Why, when having multiple cups of tea, does the first cup taste better than all the others? How long can a tea pot be allowed to stand before the tea is undrinkable? Is a cup of tea brewed or mashed?
In this world of intense and complicated technical solutions to almost any question or conundrum, why can’t we answer the question of how to make the perfect cup of tea?
In John’s gospel we find Jesus and the disciples walking on a long and tiresome journey from Judea through Samaria, to Galilee. In that part of the world and at that time of year, it would have been cool in the early morning but quite hot by the mid- day.
We are told that the disciples had ventured off to find food in the adjacent town of Sychar and Jesus had found his way to a spring that formed Jacob’s well. It was noon (12.00 Jewish time and 18.00 Roman time) and the temperature would have been reaching its height. Together with an early start, a long journey and the heat of the day, Jesus would have been tired hot and in need of refreshment.
At the well he met with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. Her presence is of great significance for several reasons. She was a loan woman with no companions. It was the hottest part of the day and not a time people would be usually drawing water. She met a man, (Jesus) not only a man but a Jew who spoke to her and asked for water.
It is possible that this woman was a social outcast which could give an indication of why she was there in these circumstances, and she had brought with her a water pot to fill. The water she would drink would refresh her physically but not spiritually.
In this passage we see Jesus reaching out to win the soul of this woman and to set her free from the spiritual prison that she was in. He brought her to realise her needs and also offered to her the solution to her problems. He offered her forgiveness, salvation and freedom, true refreshment which would last her lifetime.
Possibly for the first in her life she was not condemned, judged or ridiculed, but was offered love and forgiveness.
When Ringtons call the driver always has a little speech to promote the special offers on that week. These can range from special offers on biscuits, boxes of cakes and so on. On his last visit he offered me a special pack of hand cream and body lotion
I tactfully explained that I had little use for a large bottle of body lotion but I could make good use of a packet of double chocolate chip cookies