The Common Cup
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’
Although reception of the consecrated wine from the common cup by the whole congregation was a practice in the early Church and has been again since the Reformation, the Church of England decided to suspend the common cup in the light of the Covid pandemic. Individual cups of communion wine are prohibited by canon law, and intinction (‘dipping’ the host) carries a whole set of different infection risks.
As you are probably aware, the Church of England once again permits the use of the common cup. Its re-introduction across the country has been gradual and varied. With our large congregation, significant number of visitors, and some high infection rates locally in Cambridge, the University Church has been more cautious than some about restoring this part of our worship.
This past Sunday, there was a meeting of the ministry team, churchwardens, the music team, head server and sacristan, to review our worship practices. That group has decided to gradually re-introduce the common cup to our celebration of the Eucharist.
From this weekend, you will be able to receive the consecrated wine from the chalice at Holy Communion on Sunday (8am) and at celebrations of the Eucharist during the week (every Wednesday and most re-letter Feast Days at 12.30pm). The common cup will be restored to worship at 10am on Trinity Sunday (12 June). This later date reflects the fact that we will need to recruit, retrain and license our chalice administrators. If you are interested in being a chalice administrator, please do email me.
It’s important to remember that for centuries the view of the Church has been that receiving in one kind — just the consecrated bread (or just the consecrated wine)— is fully valid and not an inferior form of Communion. Therefore no one should feel obliged to drink from the common cup if you still have reservations about infection – although it should be noted that several studies in the U.S. have not found any link between restoring the common cup and virus transmission.**
Receiving Communion is a special moment between you and God in the midst of the people of God gathered together as one body. Therefore do take your time to receive Christ’s body and, soon, his blood. It can feel rushed, having people queue up behind you, but, as we have learned over the past couple of years, God takes his time with us. So we should take our time with him.