Return to the Common Cup
As we consider the impact COVID had on in-person fellowship for churches around the world, we are so grateful to be able to fully gather in ways familiar before the pandemic, with a renewed sense of how good and significant it is to be in physical presence with one another.
One practice that changed at Christ Church because of the pandemic is the distribution of communion elements. We shifted from receiving the consecrated wine from a common cup (a shared Chalice) to pouring the wine into individual plastic cups. After careful consideration for continued safety, and a desire to restore a practice which has both symbolic and historical significance, Christ Church will dispense of the plastic cups and resume the practice of the common cup with options starting August 13th.
To help explain some considerations and address questions, we put together the following FAQ which we hope you find informative and helpful.
What is the significance of the common cup?
In our sacramental understanding of the world, there are few things that boldly proclaim our unity in Christ as much as the common cup. To a world living through the age of fragmentation and suspicion of one another, the common cup is a visible proclamation of a diverse people who truly belong to one another. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all.”
We might add, and one cup.
The common cup is a way of saying our primary identity is always beloved human in Christ and every other descriptor – political affiliation, wealth status, age, married state – is a secondary adjective to the primary identity of Christian.
We could think of the common cup as the Gospel proclaimed symbolically as we all share in the one cup that Christ shared with his disciples at his last meal (Matt 26:27). As Paul says, as we share this cup we are sharing in the cup that Christ held and offered to his disciples, the cup of his sacrifice of love (1 Cor. 11:25-26).
There is a wholeness, an integration, a sacramental symbol that transcends our dividing differences when we receive communion from the common cup.
Is it safe to drink from the same cup?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found no documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup. The consensus of the CDC is that a theoretical risk of transmitting infectious diseases by using a common communion cup exists, but that the risk is so small that it is undetectable.
To further mitigate risk, we will use sterling silver chalices for their antimicrobial properties. In addition, chalice bearers rotate the cup after each sip and wipe the rim clean with a purificator soaked in a grain alcohol with such high alcohol content it is a food grade disinfectant to remove possible contaminants.
What are my options if I’m not comfortable drinking from a common cup?
Although many of us look forward to resuming the practice of the common cup, there are some who, for various reasons, choose to refrain from participating in a shared cup. The following options are available:
- Intinction (dipping bread) option: We have the option to receive through intinction, that is, to dip the bread into the wine. This is a common practice among many churches around the world. If you choose intinction please be careful not to touch the rim of the cup or dip your fingers in the wine.
- Bread Only option: For those who refrain from wine, due to allergies or other reasons, we hold to the understanding that receiving the bread only is considered “communion under one kind”, with the assurance that Christ is sacramentally and equally present in one element as He is in the other. Thus, one who receives the bread without the wine is a full participant in the Eucharist.
In all things, we want to act with love and consideration and enable, as much as reasonably possible, everyone to participate in Holy Eucharist in the ways they feel comfortable. Each of these options hold equal significance and value as we receive the gifts of God with thankful hearts.
How will it work on Sunday morning?
As usual, Ushers will dismiss each row, and welcome you to the front to receive communion. There will be some differences in the way you approach communion depending on your preferences:
- To drink from the common cup: When you approach the front, you will receive the bread. Then, a chalice bearer will lift the cup of wine to you, tipping it for you to drink. You may use your hands to help guide the cup to your mouth.
- To dip your bread, called intinction: Hold on to your bread until the chalice bearer approaches you with the cup. Dip your bread in the wine, taking care to avoid touching the cup or wine with your fingers.
- If you choose not to receive the Wine: Simply cross your hands over your chest, indicating that you will not receive the element being served. We welcome your presence, standing side-by-side as a guest at the Lord’s Table.
A note about the Altar Guild
We are blessed with an amazing Altar Guild! These dear servants prepare and maintain the Altar and all vessels and appointments for our weekly services and special events throughout the year with care and devotion.
Once the communion elements have been consecrated by the priest, they are treated with reverence. In practice, this means consecrated wine is not poured down a sink as if it were “just another liquid.” Instead, the sacred Wine is poured directly to the earth, realizing Christ’s sacrifice is for the redemption of the whole earth.
Over the past few years the Altar Guild has collected and rinsed nearly every small plastic cup that’s held sacred wine before disposing of them. This has been a generous act of love and reverence.
If you would like to thank our Altar Guild members, or if you are interested in serving on the Altar Guild, please submit a note below: