From the night of the disciples’ last meal with Jesus, until now, the simple things of bread and wine, combined with Christ’s word of promise, bring the gifts of forgiveness, reconciled community, and the promise of life eternal. More than the sum of its parts, the Holy Eucharist sustains believers and the Church.
The four communion vessels chosen for the 2009 Churchwide Assembly are a rich sign of inclusivity among the faithful. The chalice, pitcher, basket and linens were crafted by artisans from four places where the ELCA accompanies companions in faithful and transformative mission: Palestine, Bangladesh, Uganda and Guatemala.
In the spring of 2009, we had the opportunity and joy to work with the Natsheh family living in Hebron, Palestine, to produce the glass chalices. The family has been in the glass-blowing business for more than 450 years; and were honored and humbled when asked to reclaim broken, discarded and recycled glass for the creation of the 30 chalices. Imad Natsheh expressed his gratitude and his family’s honor in making such a significant contribution “for our Christian friends who recognize the need for God’s forgiveness.” Imad went on to say, “We are grateful for our Lutheran brothers and sisters who work for peace with justice in this holy but troubled land.”
In the Holy Meal, lovely goblets are transformed into chalices, carrying Christ’s new life, freely offered for all people. Through the Holy Meal, we are transformed, too. Forgiven and renewed, we carry the good news of Christ’s redeeming love.
During Holy Week, Christians around the world will break bread offered in a variety of textures, tastes, shapes and sizes; and, they will lift a cup and hear the words: “given and shed for you and all people.” Thanks be to God for the reconciling Spirit who brings together such earthly things to bear Christ’s promise of life eternal!
In April 2010, the Rev. Mark and Marcia Holman will return to the U.S. after serving as ELCA missionaries in Jerusalem.