September 2022

September 2022

The Common Cup


It’s been well over two years since we began hearing rumblings of a new virus. We were finishing up our Hawaii vacation, and The Covid hit there right after we left. For a while, the world and our country got a little bit crazy, but not so much in Iowa. The Governor made us shut down for five weeks, and we did, and the first Sunday back we had 29 in church, and we changed some things.


We stopped collecting the Offering, and started putting the plates in the narthex, like they did in the Temple in Old Testament times, like the Church did until – I think – the Americans put in pews and started passing the plate. We went to continuous Communion – I think the “tables” were also an American thing – the norm for most Christians today and for most of the Church’s History.


And we stopped offering the Common Cup at Communion, and that’s the one that really doesn’t make much sense. Don’t get me wrong. I was in the meeting where we decided to do that, and I went along with the idea pretty easily. Perceptions were important back in those days. We did it to alleviate the spread of The Virus, but viruses and bacteria don’t spread with our Common Cup.


A Chemist I know tells me that there is sufficient alcohol in wine to kill germs. Acting with the metal cup makes the wine even more antiseptic. It’s why we use metal for the cup and not ceramic or some other substance, which does not have the same effect. It’s why neither I nor the Internet – that I can find – can cite one single time when disease has been spread via the Common Cup.


The Common Cup has been with us since the beginning. It’s what Jesus used at the first Lord’s Supper, and what the Church has continued to use from the earliest days.


Then came the Temperance Movement. They looked at the dark side of alcohol and wanted to eliminate all alcoholic drink in this country, and some churches began to teach that all alcohol is sinful.


In 1865, an American Methodist Minister from England invented grape juice. Can you guess the man’s last name only? Rather than ferment the grape juice, making alcohol to preserve it, Thomas Bramwell Welch pasteurized the juice to preserve it. He invented grape juice because, he said, he did not believe in drinking and did not want to have drink alcohol at church, and he didn’t.


Grape juice is all well and good, but it doesn’t kill germs, and enter the individual cups. Wine kills those germs, but who wants to drink grape juice after people who might be sick? Sidebar: I was at a Cardinals game with some Lutherans at Coors Field several years ago. Somebody at an inside seat ordered a beer, and from the aisle on in, every Lutheran took a sip of that beer!


I know what you’re thinking! But we use wine, not grape juice, so we don’t need the individual cups, so why do we have them? It’s what we do; we see that some church has something we don’t have, and why can’t we have that? One professor compared us to somebody walking around on trash day, spotting something that somebody has thrown out, and taking it home as a great find!


We will begin offering the Common Cup again on Sunday, September 18.


In Christian Service,


Pastor Anderson