It was a desperate plea: “May this cup pass...” And yet, he drained it to the bitter dregs.
Now we sit around the table, remembering. A silver salver holds the broken bread, ruby wine sparkles in the silver cup. The dying notes of the music shimmer in the still air as we approach the cross of Calvary.
We have each been there before carrying our cups of dead men’s bones, the burdens we laid at his feet.
“Can these bones live?” “Oh, Lord God, only you know that!”
Now we come to offer our tear-stained thanks for the cleansing of his blood, the healing bought by his broken body. We come to offer our cups of praise.
We come not with our cups of dead men’s bones to lay them at his feet;
But with our chalices of love, of worship and of praise, to lave him as is meet.
As we sit around the table proffering the perfumes of our praise, breaking open our alabaster boxes in worship, we thrill to the carillon of voices joining Sylvia’s as she sings “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end...”
How well we know the truth of these words; how helplessly we depend upon his mercy.
There is a diverse array of ‘cups’ gathered at the board: elegant, slender silver; the soft gleam of pewter rivals the fiery shine of bronze and jewelled goblets; crystal chalices and fragile bone china bracket heavy ceramic bowls. All are cleansed. All were marred, now made beautiful by the restoring touch of nail-scarred hands. All are empty, awaiting the precious infilling of the Holy Spirit’s breath. All are full, brimming with the love and peace of God.
Once loud-mouthed and brash, Simon stands. His rough, work-worn hands lift the salver of the bread, blessing it with his now gentle voice before starting its passage around the table.
“Lord Jesus, we thank you for this simple reminder of your body; bruised, broken and bloodied that we may have healing and peace.”
Soft “Amen’s” follow the emptying salver. It returns to Simon who takes a piece of the bread, placing it to his lips with a whispered prayer before sitting down again. At his side James stands, his height exaggerated by his slender form. Balding head bowed, his thin fingers reach for the silver cup, lift the snowy napkin at its side.
“Precious Saviour, at your request we gather to thank you for your cleansing blood.”
Turning to Simon, he proffers the cup, tilted to Simon’s mouth. When Simon has drunk, he polishes the rim before handing the cup and napkin to Simon who turns to his neighbour repeating the action. So the cup is passed around the table until finally James too is served, the cup and napkin returned to their place.
There is quiet, a listening hush. The Spirit hovers. Our thoughts crowd close around the Lamb before the throne of God. A tear falls. Soft as a whisper a voice carries the words into the air:
“The cross he bore is life and health,
Though shame and death to Him;
His people’s hope, His people’s wealth,
Their everlasting theme.”
With an outpouring of joy we cascade into the hymn:
“The head that once was crowned with thorns,
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor’s brow.
He lives, He lives, I know that my Redeemer lives.”
The cups of our lives, once the repository of dead men’s bones, are cleansed, restored, the chalices of life, those “which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Hymn: T. Kelly
Scripture: John 1:13
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