Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

December 2022 Newsletter

“[Jesus said] ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’  And they said to him: ‘We are able.’  And Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized with you will be baptized.”  Mark 10:38-39

“And Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.  And Jesus said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” Mark 14:23

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?”  1 Corinthians 10:16

“As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26

Here at our congregation, we have been teaching for the last few years the importance of the Lord’s Supper.  Hopefully in my preaching you have caught how frequently I go to the Sacrament of the Altar.  The Sacraments ground the Gospel and locate it for our certainty and peace.  You know its benefits.  You believe that it is the true body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

I think that you are now ready to take the next step that I am going to introduce here as I refer to the Bible passages listed above.

Can you drink the cup that I drink?  That question is what Jesus poses to his disciples.  With that question Jesus asks his followers if they are willing to share not only in Jesus’ life but also if they will share in his fate.  Will they throw their lot in with their Lord?  Will they go to whatever end?  Will you follow where I go?  That is what Jesus asks. The disciples, thinking this is just a picture of glory without suffering state rather confidently, “Yes, we can.”

Jesus tells them that they indeed will, though better than they know. They will share in Jesus’ fate.  Each one of these men will suffer in ways like their Lord.  It is enough for a student to be like his Teacher, as Jesus promises.  And indeed, the first followers of Jesus were all killed except for John, who tradition says survived being thrown in burning oil for Jesus’ sake and later died of old age.  They will drink his cup of suffering before they receive glory.

The Lord’s Supper is how we participate in Jesus’ death.  That is what Paul is getting at.  That is what it means when we take the cup from Jesus.  What happened to Jesus is what I will now share in.  I accept this as my doom.  “You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” And “Is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?”  These words thunder of fate on our ears.

But something else happens here too.  “They all drank from it.”  That is what the text says. The cup that Peter drank from was passed to Andrew and he drank from it, and then to James, and to John… and so on.  We participate together in Jesus.  I am not taking from Jesus for myself, I am sharing in a community together with Jesus.  I am, as the text says, participating.

Will you share in Jesus also becomes, “Will you share in Jesus together?  Will you suffer this community?  Will you stay together through thick and thin as the Lord sticks with us?”   The cup that you drink will also be the cup that I drink.  Through thick and thin I will be here just as the Lord promises for me.

What Jesus does when he passes the cup in Communion is a call for community and discipleship.  The cup stands for the sharing of the scandal of Jesus, to share in suffering together.  To share a cup is intimate and it connects us to others who are at table.  It means that you are my brother and sister, and that I don’t need to be kept safe from you as we share in the life of Jesus.  

Jesus took the cup from his Father and suffered the worst of our fallen race, and Jesus accepted it with joy.  Jesus threw his lot in with us, paid the price, and won salvation for you.  Now we are also called in this community of the one body of Christ to do the same.  The Lord’s Supper is how we practice the teaching that Jesus our Risen Lord has taught us, that we are open to lay down our lives for our Lord and for each other.

“Can you drink the cup that I drink?” That is Jesus’ challenge to us.  And as he passes that cup from you to me and from me to the next, that question is one that we should pose to each other.  “Can you drink and share in the same cup that Jesus has given to me?”  That says a lot about a life together, and it is what Jesus intends to build in us as he gives us the cup and we all drink from it.
Will you share in the fate of your brothers and sisters in Jesus?  Will you throw your lot in with me?  Because we know that Jesus Christ is Lord over death and the grave, we can give a hearty “Amen! Yes we can.  No matter the sin or suffering, Jesus will lead us to glory.”

This is all leading to my point.  Because I have spent the last several years pounding on what Jesus gives and promises to us in Communion, I believe therefore that you guys are ready for the step in the teaching of our Lord’s Supper: The Common Cup/Chalice.

I believe that we are ready to reintroduce the Common Cup along with the individual cups.  I have started to hear inquiries about the Common Cup from a few members over the last few months.  I have also sat down and talked about this with both the elders and the Altar Guild about how to get it implemented back into our services.

The Common Cup is something that has not been a part of our life here recently at this congregation, and I am not sure why that is.  But already we do have a couple Common Cups in our supply here at Christ Lutheran, so it must have been used here at some point.

More talks about this will I am sure happen, need to happen, and I want to have happen.  This is an opportunity to teach!  This is why I am writing this.  I want to start having this discussion more openly, and hopefully by now you all know that I love starting the discussion here because I believe this is the best and widest channel to get my thoughts out to you and to hear feedback.  I know there are likely to be questions about adding in the Common Cup, so the rest of my article will be answering a few FAQ:

What is the Common Cup?
The Common Cup is a chalice/cup that everyone who desires to receive the wine shares in.

Why would we want to have the Common Cup?
To put it briefly, it is how the Church received Communion for 1,900 years.  And it is what Jesus instituted.

Will the individual cups still be offered?
Yes.  The individual cups will be offered still.  Those will not be taken away.  The Common Cup is only be added back in. Nothing is being taken away, though I would suggest trying the Common Cup at least once to get the experience.  You are not sinning or doing something wrong if you take the individual cups.  The Common Cup is being added back in because of the strong biblical images that are reflected in its use and the historical practice of the Church.

How do I take the Common Cup?
Communion will be offered as you are used to.  I will come by with the host (the bread) and give it as usual.  Likewise, the elder will follow behind me with the individual trays of wine.  All that is what we have done and are used to.  But since I usually get done with delivering the host before the elder finishes the table, I will then go to the altar and grab the chalice and come back through the table to give it to anyone who may want to have the Common Cup.

To show me that you want the Common Cup the best thing to do is to make it obvious to me that you need the wine.  This way I do not need to guess who needs it.  The best way that you can do to show me that you still need the wine from the Common Cup is to hold out your hand.
When the elder passes by with the individual trays, you can put your hand over your chest or nod toward the altar to let him know that you desire to receive the Common Cup.

These gestures will help communicate to us that you want the Common Cup.  And I am sure as we reintroduce it that we will iron out the quirks as the weeks go on.

When the Common Cup comes to you, I will be holding onto the neck of the cup.  Use one hand to grab the bottom of the cup and the other hand to grasp the top to help guide it to your mouth.  Take a sip and when you have received the wine, you can use your hand to straighten the cup back out.  My hand will never let go but will let your hand do the guiding.  To describe this takes a lot longer and sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.

When will Common Cup start being offered?  
Christmas Eve!  Since we have so many members of our congregation attending at that time, it is honestly the best time to bring it back into use.  Plus, Christmas Eve is such a perfect time to bring in something that is connected to the Sacrament of the Altar.

A history of Common Cup/Chalice
A history of all this would be a different article entirely, but to state it briefly: up until about 1900 AD, the Common Cup was all that was ever used anywhere in all of Christendom.  That is not an exaggeration.  During the early 1900’s though, germ theory, Spanish Flu, and more recently AIDS and Covid caused and cemented the church to depart from what Christ did and what the Church always practiced to instead create the individual plastic cups.  It is believed that the individual cups are more sanitary, but when you count the cost, I don’t think there is much of a difference.  The individual trays also arose in areas of the Church where Communion was treated as symbolic (that the bread and wine are not really the body and blood of Jesus, just representing it).  

What about sanitary issues?
There is not one recorded death or sickness tied to using the common cup.  First, we believe in Jesus’ promise that he is here to heal and not make us sick.  Second, alcohol kills germs and bacteria, and the gold plating in the common cup is not conducive to bacteria.  So, the Common Cup is just as safe, if not safer.  I also wipe it down between serving.

Finally, theologically, the potential of even getting a disease from sharing the cup is one of the reasons for sharing the cup.  I throw my lot in with you and suffer the consequences.  I accept you as my brother and sister fully and without reservation.  Jesus makes us a promise and as I partake in this cup with you, I trust him to keep you and me for eternal life, even if I get sick now.  That is discipleship to the maximum potential.  It is, in the most intimate way, to be like Christ.

I think that is a good start for now.  I am sure they may be more questions, and I would love to hear them!  This is a healthy thing to do, and I am not saying you must take the Common Cup. I am only trying to bring something back that has always been a part of the Church and communicates brotherhood in Jesus Christ.
God’s peace to you all in Jesus and have a Happy New Year!  In the New Year, we will have Lenten Meals to discuss and our Voters Meeting, which is on January 22nd at 11:30am!  My end of the year report will be out next month and will take the place of this newsletter.  Please look at the rest of this newsletter for reminders on dates and times and events coming up!

Jesus Christ loves each of you.  He died for you and rose for you.  He will keep you for eternal life!  Amen.
In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt
Posted in
Tagged with