For the next several weeks, and into Lent, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the items inside our church, at their theology and what these sacramentals can teach us! A sacramental is different from a sacrament. A sacramental is a material object (or a blessing) that pertains to the sacraments. It is used in their celebration and are set apart, or consecrated, to that end. There are numerous items of this nature in our church, each with its own purpose. This week, I want to show you a chalice which is used regularly in the celebration of the Eucharist. We have another one, which we will explore later. This particular one was inherited from the people of All Saints’ Church in Wichita Falls, Texas after the decision was made to close their parish as their life became unsustainable. Bishop Iker offered it to us. It is a regular reminder to me of a wonderful prayer for Good Friday: “let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new…”
Etched upon the surface surrounding the cup are images of each of the twelve apostles. Each stands in a “gate,” making reference not only to the twelve apostles names written on the foundations of the heavenly city in Revelation 21, but to the reality which the Apostles proclaimed: Jesus Christ, King of Heaven, the Lamb in the midst of the City of God. The chalice reminds us that every celebration of the Eucharist is a proclamation of the Lord’s death and his coming reign, as Saint Paul puts it: “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26) One of the things that you don’t get to see in the celebration of the Eucharist is what all the priests of Christ Church see when they celebrate the Eucharist, which is that the image of the Resurrection, painted by Sean Oswald, is reflected perfectly in the gold bowl of each chalice, as well as on the gold paten, the plate which is used to hold the hosts. This is a reminder that the Risen Christ is present with his Church in the breaking of bread, ever made known to us. You may have noticed that when the Sacrament is elevated, it very nearly reaches up to the Lord’s hand in the painting. This is all by design. I asked Sean to compose the image in this way, so that we would be continually presented with what those two disciples on the road to Emmaus were presented with, the Risen Christ made known in the breaking of bread, the Church being continually called to participate in His Body and Blood. At the base of the chalice, you will see images of the four living creatures depicted in the Revelation to Saint John, often called the tetramorphs. Traditionally, these have been understood to correspond to the four Gospels and the four Evangelists. There is the eagle (for John), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke), and a man (for Matthew). This is to remind us that the Eucharist is, along with Holy Baptism, a Sacrament of the Gospel, given to us for our Salvation. This particular chalice was made in Spain by Artistic Silver, engraved by hand by master silversmiths. It was originally given in memory of Josephine Aboussie. We give great thanks to the people of All Saint's Wichita Falls for this gift!