A year ago, in the Easter season, we made substantial strides in returning to pre-pandemic life at St. B’s.At that time, after consulting with your vestry and staff, I opted not to return to drinking from the common cup at our Eucharists. Now that COVID-19 has shifted from pandemic to endemic and as we leave the winter months of flu and colds, this Easter season seems like a good time to allow again drinking from the common cup.
We have a rich theology of the “common cup,” which is based on Jesus offering his apostles blessed wine from a shared cup at the Last Supper. Drinking from the common cup began—and has continued—as a symbol of the unity of the followers of Jesus.
Starting on Sunday May 7 the priest (or verger) will distribute consecrated bread, followed by a Lay Eucharistic Member (LEM) who will offer you the chalice from which to sip the consecrated wine. You may choose instead to dip a small bit of the wafer into the wine in the chalice, which is called intinction. We will drink and intinct from the same chalice. The priest (or verger) will no longer intinct the wafer for you. Best of all we will return to using the familiar words at distribution: “The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven” and “The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” Much of the Episcopal church has already returned to these practices, including Holy Spirit Episcopal Church (Houston), which is the current church of our next rector, the Reverend Josh Condon.
The most recent stance of the Center for Disease Control on drinking
from a common communion, cup is that the risk of infection is “very low.” Our St. B's COVID medical advisory team concurs. Wiping the common cup between sips helps to keep the risk low, and we are retraining our LEMs in the wiping protocols. By contrast, there are some concerns about germs spread through intinction and, therefore, it is important to remember that fingers should not touch the wine. If you or your child chooses to dip the wafer in the wine, please adhere to this request.
As always, you are welcome to receive only the bread—which the Church has long held constitutes full communion—or a blessing from the priest.
The Rev. Serena Sides