When I look into the Cup – A meditation by Cory Eyler
April 2010, Found in his Book of Common Prayer
(Cory passed into God’s larger life on February 23, 2017)
The ministry of Chalicist at the Holy Eucharist is one of the most rewarding and moving experiences I have ever had the distinct pleasure of performing. Each time, as I look into the cup, in my mind I see our Lord washing the feet of the Disciples and then performing the first Eucharist in the Upper Room. Other times, I see Jesus in His victory over death, risen form the tomb and ascending to the Father. I am careful not to be conspicuous or to draw anyone’s attention away from communing with the Holy Spirit. However, I do confess that from time to time a communicant will initiate eye contact for reasons known only to them. I keep my countenance both friendly and kindly, if you will. Holy Communion is, well, Holy. And as such, one must be vigilant that none be spilled or wasted.
The handling of the communion chalice can be a bit tricky if you are not careful. I hold the chalice in my right hand, and the purificator in my left. Most supplicants take the wine directly from the cup, others will intinct the wafer into the wine. Some, like myself, prefer the chalicist intinct the bread and place it on the communicant’s tongue. It reminds me of the passage from the Gospel of John, wherein Jesus says: “feed my sheep.” I am feeding His sheep as He instructed. At times, it is challenging. I believe that some fear it is forbidden to touch the base of the chalice in order to tip the cup up to receive the sacrament. When that happens I am tasked with ensuring that the cup is tilted enough for them to receive without giving them an unscheduled bath of wine!
In my former home parish, we enjoyed a free-standing altar. This allowed easy movement during the Eucharist. As the priest was moving left to right along the communion rail, I could go around behind the altar to serve those waiting. Now at St. Mark’s, Lappans, we have a fixed altar on the back wall. The distance from communion rail to the altar is a scant four feet. That calls for some fancy footwork as it is a very limited space to work in. It did not take long for those of us who serve to learn the choreography required in order to avoid collision.
Although communion is serious business, it is also a happy time for most. Of course Jesus is with us every minute of every day, but when one thinks of the gift of everlasting life as a result of His sacrifice and by God’s grace, one cannot help but be moved to great joy.
There are other ministries that I have done and still do perform. For example, the reading of the Word of God, a very satisfying ministry in itself. But it would be difficult to say that one is more important than the other. Both give me great satisfaction, in different ways. The bottom line for me is that as long as I am in His service and it is what God desires of me, I am and always will be His humble servant, no matter where He leads.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound….
Cory Eyler, April 2010
Anne+ is the Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lappans. She says,