Dear Friends in Christ—
As we are in the midst of the Triduum (literally, “three days”—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday,
and Holy Saturday), I want to talk about a liturgical change we are making during these days:
bringing back wine. I want to talk about how it’s going to work, and, more importantly, I want
to talk about what it means.
How will it work?
- With the exception of some quieter, more solemn services—like Maundy Thursday—we
are going to continue receiving eucharist at stations at the crossing.
- We will not share the common cup. Instead, if you would like wine, the priest will dip
the wafer in the wine, and then hand it to you. This practice prevents any spread of
germs with multiple people touching the same cup.
- You can make your preference known by the way you approach the priest. If you want
the wafer only, put out two hands, palm up atop one another, just the way you usually
do. If you want wine, just put out one hand.
- Remember, the bread by itself is full communion. You’re not doing something wrong if
you don’t want wine yet, or ever.
What does it mean?
I can’t pretend to explain or even understand fully myself the mystery of the Eucharist. But
wine in particular reminds us not only of sacrifice but also rejoicing. It is the extraordinary set
next to the ordinary, the joy that enlivens our heart set next to the daily bread that sustains us.
As our culture finds its way forward from the pandemic, I hear a strong desire for joy. Easter
reminds us that joy prevails. The empty tomb does not do away with all sadness. The risen
Jesus kept his wounds. But Easter tells us that new life is possible again, no matter how
profound the sadness, no matter how deep the grave.
So when you taste the wine again, I hope it reminds you not only of loss but also of that joy
which is evergreen, that finds its way back to us over and over again. I hope it reminds you of
the promise of Easter: that we will not only have life but have it abundantly.
I leave you with one of my favorite poems, “But Not With Wine,” written by Jennifer Powers, as
a reminder of the persistence of joy, and all that I think wine represents:
“You are drunk, but not with wine” (Isaiah 51.21)
O god of too much giving, whence is this
inebriation that possesses me,
that the staid road now wanders all amiss
and that the wind walks much too giddily,
clutching a bush for balance, or a tree?
How then can dignity and pride endure
with such inordinate mirth upon the land,
when steps and speech are somewhat insecure
and the light heart is wholly out of hand?
If there be indecorum in my songs,
fasten the blame where rightly it belongs:
on Him who offered me too many cups
of His most potent goodness–not on me,
a peasant who, because a king was host,
drank out of courtesy.
Yours in Christ,