The hands of Sister Alice Potts, a Roman Catholic nun that served as a chaplain at M D Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, whom I had the honor of serving with. The photo is from a series of photos I took entitled, "Lifting the cup of Christ." I would ask persons to take hold of the chalice, photographed them holding the vessel, and then share their thoughts with me. They were then included in a booklet, "Reflections of a Chaplain," a gift I created for the Chaplaincy Staff and Fellows I served with.
"Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it."
~ Mark 14:23
One of the most wonderful expressions of God's presence in our lives is found within the cup. From the first time that Jesus asks us to remember him through his blood, we are invited to come and be present with him.
I think of the night when Christ lifted the cup, drinking in not just the cup of blessing, but also that of pain, suffering, and a promise that this remembering will turn into reality of being present with God.
Although when we think of the chalice we often see in our faith traditions, the shape of the Holy Vessel takes many forms. While I have seen ornate cups, I have in my ministry, used even yesterday's grape jelly container to serve as a cup of remembrance and sacredness. In our minds, when the words reminding us that "this is my body broken, and my blood shed for you," is shared, we invite the holy to take shape.
I remember an early morning class in Seminary when our professor, Burton Cooper, took two masonry bricks, held them together, then separated the two, sharing how it was bread, broken for us.
Then taking a water pitcher, pretending to pour water, then shared how it was now wine, consecrating it to be a holy vessel containing blood, shed for us, they were transformed in our minds, and our eyes began to see the items in a much different way.
While our eyes may keep us from seeing, our faith helps us to see beyond that which attempts to hide the holiness from us.
The vessels that carry Christ to the world take many forms.
Our ability to hold, lift, and to taste is only limited by our own inability.
We are challenged, while welcomed, to partake in all that which God has to offer, remembering that with God's glory also exists through all the challenges that we must face.
Jesus declared that he had entered the world not to condemn the world, but to save the world. While this was clearly the mission, the vessel by which this would take place, is us!
Take, drink, each of you. For as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we remember Christ's life, death and resurrection and that one day we all shall see him face to face. This is the gift of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, may I be the vessel of Your presence for others. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.