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Communion Meditations (2020)


One Cup

Originally scheduled for November 22

It is sometimes interesting to speculate on what the apostles would think if they were to come back now and walk into a typical church service on a Sunday morning in the 21st century. There are no doubt many things that would impress them. One which might puzzle them, however, is the use of those little plastic communion cups which are so common in many churches today. The idea that the cup is disposable and used only by one person might be rather perturbing to them. We shall take their point of view in this meditation. (I leave to the reader the thorny problem of whether or not they would be upset with the use of grape juice instead of wine in so many churches.)

Remember, the apostles would have had no concept of germs as we understand them. To them, the single cup used in communion was a sign of the unity of the church. They might perceive the single cups of plastic as being something which threatened the fundamental unity of the church that Christ so much wanted.


A cup has an inside and an outside. We may first consider the cup as a representation of how we appear to the outside world. Paul had this problem with the Corinthians; you’ll recall he admonished them not to be participants in the cup of demons as well as the cup of the Lord. This was with respect to eating meat which had already been sacrificed to idols, a problem which Christians have not had for quite some time. But the principle remains the same: you cannot be both a Christian and, for example, a hedonist at the same time. At least, you can’t do that without a monumental dose of hypocrisy. When you take the cup of Christ you declare to the world which side you are on. You declare that you are a Christian, with all that that means. So I might ask you: does the world see you that way? Does what you proclaim in communion flow through to the rest of your week?


The inside of the cup represents the relationship of Christians with each other. We, the church, are tasked with caring for our brothers and sisters, our fellow Christians, no matter where they are in the world. Most of such care is done locally, but there is a fair amount of time, money and effort given to those in faraway places. This is as it should be. We’re in this together! We are commanded by our Lord to “love one another.” So I may ask you this morning to look at yourself and decide whether or not you do love one another. When you take the cup of communion you proclaim to your fellow Christians that you do. Would they agree?


One cup: the test of our unity in the face of the world and amongst ourselves. When you take that cup you declare yourself to be a Christian, both to the world and to the church. Before you partake this morning, take the time to examine your self and see if you measure up to what you proclaim by taking communion.

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