george_hancockstefanIt was dangerous to be a coffee mug around our house this year.  More specifically, it was dangerous to be a cup in my hands.  This year I dropped and broke at least three cups.  One evening I came from the church office home carrying about 4-5 cups in my hand.  However, when I tried to unlock the door, one of them fell to the ground and shattered. Another time, I was doing something else as I tried to put a cup in the sink.  I missed the sink and it fell to the floor and shattered in many pieces.  But the previous cups did not shatter like the cup that I broke last week.  I was on the way to the office, when I remembered that I needed to pick up something from the second floor. I placed my cup filled with hot coffee on the stairwell and I went to pick up this item.  On the way down I ran on the stairwell, and inadvertently, I hit the cup which fell down, spilled the coffee and shattered in so many small pieces that I was on my knees on the floor looking for small shards of this coffee cup.

Two of the three cups that I broke belonged to my wife. My wife has coffee cups from her days in college.  In fact she could write a history of her life based on the cups that she has in our cupboard. This whole year in view of my dexterity in handling cups, I stayed away from her college mug.  The last one I broke was this beautiful cup that had the picture of a piano keyboard.  It was given to her by one of her favorite piano students. It was treasured and used often.

As one who is not materially connected to things, after I broke so many cups this year, I tried to look at the mugs that are important to me.  Here are some of the cups that have significance to me:

I have one that is only half of a mug given to me by my sister from Seattle.  The inscription reads, “Seattle was so expensive that I could afford only half a cup.” Whenever I see that mug, it makes me laugh. Also because I rarely drink half a cup of coffee, the preservation of that cup is almost guaranteed.

I have a cup that I call my miracle cup. It has no handles. You can imagine who dropped it to the floor. However, when it fell to the ground, only the handle shattered. The rest is still good and reminds me of the day when I was hired as the Associate Professor of Church History at Eastern Baptist Seminary.

The biggest cup that I have was given to those of us who graduated with a PHD degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  It is a large mug because in order to succeed in writing that dissertation, one has to stay up many nights and coffee is a great helper.  It also makes me laugh because on graduation day when we received the official diploma, a wallet size diploma and this coffee mug, one of my colleagues in lines said, “After 7 years and close to $100,000 this is all that we get from this school!”

However, probably my favorite cup was given to me by a member of the church who retired and moved away.  It is a cup with a cross and an inscription, “A Pastor lives in faith and leads with love, Guiding others to God above.” I use this cup often and I hope that I will not break it for a long time.

Cups! Memories! Somebody has thought about us and given us something to remember them by. In a very small, tangible ways, these things are reminders of memories, of people that God has put on our path, of people whose lives have been intertwined with ours. Even though sometimes the cups are broken, I pray that the memories and the relationships will continue in perpetuity.