Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The March of Time, Use of the Common Cup

Guest Blogger Rev. David Schultz, St. John Lutheran Church, Fenton, IA

  • image 1st Century, Jesus Christ, uses the common cup to institute His supper.
  • 2nd Century-the church spreads across the Mediterranean, the first generation of pastors, all trained by the apostles, use the common cup.
  • 3rd Century, the Great Persecutions of the church.  Hidden in the catacombs, in the tombs of the dead, all Christians use the common cup in worship.
  • 4th Century, the Christian church becomes the official faith of the Roman Empire.  In the newly triumphant churches, they use the common cup.
  • 5th Century, the Roman Empire of the West falls to barbaric German tribes (maybe your ancestors).  The Christian missionaries to those tribes use the common cup.
  • 6th Century, The Dark Ages, not much is known of this time period, due to the fall of civilization. What we do know, is that in all the churches, they use the common cup.
  • 7th Century, the new religion of Islam conquers the Christian lands of the Middle East.  In those now captive churches, they still use the common cup.
  • 8th Century, Christian troops in what is now France stop the Islamic invasion at a place called Tours.  They use the common cup in their victory mass.
  • 9th Century, the kingdoms that will become France and Germany form.  In all Christian lands, they use the common cup in communion.
  • 10th Century-Great monasteries are founded, that later will grow into Medieval cities.  The savage Viking begins to be Christianized by monks and priests.  In those monastic houses in the wilderness, the common cup is used.
  • 11th Century, the western catholic and eastern orthodox churches split.  But in both the east and the west, the Christians use the common cup.
  • 12th Century, the great crusades are underway, to reconquer the Middle East and Spain from Islam.  The crusaders use the common cup, even as they search for the Holy Grail, the cup of Christ.
  • 13th Century, the Black Death stalks across Europe, killing up to 40% of the population.  In those places where Christians survive, the common cup is used.
  • 14th Century, the Hundred Years War between England and France is underway.  But in the camps of both armies, they still use the common cup.
  • 15th Century, The Eastern Roman Empire, centered in Constantinople, falls to invading Islamic armies.  In the last church service before the city falls, all Christians, west and east, join together to use the common cup for communion, (oh, and a place called America is discovered).
  • 16th Century, Martin Luther reforms the churches of Northern Germany and in Scandinavia.  In all churches, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Reformed and Orthodox, one issue that they agree on, is to use the common cup.
  • 17th Century, The 30 Years War roars across Europe, while puritan Pilgrims settle in new American lands.  All the churches still use the common cup.
  • 18th Century, 13 of the 15 British colonies declare independence.  The first Lutheran synod in North America is founded.  All the churches use the common cup.
  • 19th Century, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is founded.  All Missouri Synod churches use the common cup.
  • 20th Century, Because of World War I and II, the Missouri Synod switches languages, from German to English.  In most churches up to the 1970s and '80s, the common cup is used.  But because so many have become afraid of germs, the individual cup is introduced.
  • 21st Century, You now have a choice to make.  Like most of the Christians of previous centuries, you can use the common cup, or you can choose to use this innovation.  It is still the Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins, no matter what vessel is used.  But the common cup does symbolize our unity, both with other Christians today, as well as those in the past, in the One Christ.  Now you can make an informed decision.
    God bless you now and always in Christ, Amen.
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Pastor Sharp said...

I would appreciate your argument if we all still used the Common Loaf.

Anonymous said...

A common loaf has not been used throughout the history of the church, but the common cup has, and not just occasionally or often, but exclusively, as Rev. Schulz points out. The reason for the exclusive use of one cup by the church of all times and places, but not one loaf, is simple: Whenever the church celebrates the Lord's Supper, She hears Him (through the pastor) say, "Drink from it, all of you." There is no such command in the words of institution to eat from one loaf.