The View from the Sacristy: The Weekday Chalice

April 16, 2014 Comments Off on The View from the Sacristy: The Weekday Chalice

imageOn this “Spy Wednesday” of Holy Week I would like to introduce you to one of the treasures of Saint Luke’s that many have never seen unless they have attended a weekday Holy Eucharist or the 8am on Sundays. There is a chalice which is used at these services that is known as the “weekday chalice.” It has a small bowl on top that holds, maybe, 6 ounces of wine; so that’s the main reason we never us this chalice at the 9:15 or 11:15 or even holidays. Yet, it is perhaps one of our most beautiful chalices.

imageThe stem of the chalice is decorated with many symbols. At the mid-point of the stem, there is a Greek cross which comes out from the stem toward you and the beams of the cross wrap around the bowl in an unbroken circle. Placed on top of the beams, written in silver, is the text of John 1:14 in Latin: verbum caro factum est (and the word became flesh). These words are not only from the Gospel lesson appointed for Christmas day and the first Sunday after Christmas, but they are also found inscribed across the star in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem which marks the spot on which Mary gave birth to Jesus.

Above this inscription on the chalice, and filling in the triangle of space formed by the beams of the cross, are bunches of grapes. Below the grapes on the chalice stem are four fleur-de-lis and above are four Easter lilies. At the end of each beam of the Greek cross are enameled octagons with symbols of the Passion of Christ (the symbols are gold with a deep purple background):

1. the crown of thorns
(John 19:2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head);
2. a ladder with the spear of Longinus
(John 19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out)
and the reed toped with a sponge;
(Matthew 27:48 at once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink);
3. the whip of the scourging
(Matthew 27:28 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified); and
4. three nails with a hammer and pinchers
(John 19:17b-18 he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him).

Our chalice is covered with symbols of Christ’s birth, His Passion, His Resurrection and The Holy Eucharist so that each time this chalice is used we can be reminded of the life of Christ and the grace he offered to us all .

– Sean Scheller

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