Sunday, August 22, 2010

Common Cup

I have started using the common cup at communion.

For many years - probably over 15? - I've been a "small cup" guy, possibly because that is what they offered at the churches I have attended: the small plastic cup in the holder with the wine (or juice) inside. However, the church that we attend in New Home has two options: the little cups or the common cup.

For almost 11 months I have been using the little cups - mostly out of habit. And then two Sundays ago, on a whim, I went ahead and drank out of the common cup.

I'm not going to pretend there was some kind of deep spiritual significance that occurred, or that somehow the heavens opened up. But what it did do was bring into a deeper sense of communion in the old sense of the word, community -in this case with God and the believers through the centuries that used only the common cup.

On some deep level it mirrors the development of so much of modern Western Christianity - we've stripped out the community from communion and replaced it with our own individual smaller buckets of God. God is no longer us and the community of believers but rather us and God, in a premeasured aliquoted amount with the empty container left behind. Yes I know that small cups have good sensible hygienic reasons but I think the symbolism is more profound than we care to admit.

I'm certainly not going to become hardline on the issue and may use the small cups from time to time (like illness for example - although the wine my church uses would, I suspect, kill any bacteria or viruses!) and yes, I know for many churches such an option is simply not practical. But it's given me a richer experience in communion and I'm the better for it. Besides, for myself what is more important: focusing on Christ's sacrifice or how it is dispensed?

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