On Bearing the Chalice

by Dawn W

Since my first Sunday at St. Bartholomew’s, I’ve wanted to be “one of those people helping.” Not long into my journey into Episcopalianism, I learned that those people are actually referred to as Lay Eucharistic Ministers. They are the people that help the Verger help the Priest, especially in the serving of the Eucharist. I knew that I wanted the opportunity to serve, but I also knew that I didn’t need to jump into service while I was adjusting to a new town and a new faith tradition.

Fast forward to a year later, when I’ve officially been confirmed as a member of St. B’s and the Worldwide Anglican Communion. I felt like I was ready to volunteer and so I took all the steps necessary to become a LEM. Yesterday was my third time serving and I am still overwhelmed by the power of it all.

It’s one thing to be in the sanctuary, to be sitting next to the Priests and other LEMs, watching the congregation from under the cross. It is another thing to be within arm’s reach of the elements during the preparation of the Eucharist. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, watching the Celebrant as he prepares the bread and wine; saying words of blessing and remembrance; is easily my favorite part of the service. I love watching the communion (literally) between Celebrant and God, between the heavenly and earthly realms. Getting to watch that up close is soul-filling.

But the part that takes my breath away every single moment is being able to serve the chalice. I become a part of the Eucharist is such a profound and special way. I am taken out of myself and become the hands of the Lord. It is through me that my fellow parishoners hold out their hands and ask for the Cup of Salvation. I use all my strength trying not to cry with every person I serve. The honor of being allowed to offer the words “This is the blood of Christ; the Cup of Salvation” is overwhelming. Though horridly unworthy, I have still been allowed to participate. Like the servants at the wedding in Cana; I know that Jesus does not need me to serve his salvation to the members of St. B’s; but, like the servants, He is allowing me to help Him because of what it does for me.

I come face to face with myself each time I serve someone else. In their eyes I see my own set of worries, fears, hopes, and needs. We all come to the table with something, and we all leave carrying the fruit of redemption. May I be worthy of the task set before me and may be all feel within us the power of Christ, given to us through the Bread and Wine.