First United Methodist Church

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News & Devotions

England Day 2: Wesley’s Chalice

I got to drink out of a 300-year-old cup today!  Well, it was at least 300 years old.  For all I know, it had been around for good while before that.  But I am pretty confident that it was in use at the turn of the 18th century.  Doesn’t that sound exciting?  Makes you want to jump on a plane, ride it for 8 hours, transfer to a bus and ride that for another 2 hours – right?  Just to drink out of a 300-year-old cup?

What if I reminded you that cup was in use before the Revolutionary War?  How many things do we have in America that are still in use from 30 years ago, much less 300 years ago?  A few institutions – churches, hospitals, universities and businesses have been around since the Revolutionary War.  But not much else.

What if I told you the cup was actually a chalice?  And that Robyn and I were able to drink out of it (it was an Anglican church) as a part of Holy Communion?  Each month back home we celebrate Jesus’ words – this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins!  Drinking the blood of Christ from a 300-year-old chalice takes on a whole new level of profound that you don’t find when using the little plastic cups!  It starkly reminded us of the thousands of times our Christian brothers and sisters had done the same thing at that very spot with that very cup for hundreds of years!   Very cool!

How about if I told you the chalice was Samuel Wesley’s chalice that he used leading his church in Epworth, England?  Samuel Wesley was John Wesley’s father.  John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement.  He was born in Epworth.  Called it his favorite place in the world.  So, as a part of our visit to England, Robyn and I had communion with the very cup that John Wesley took communion with!  Very, very cool! 

To make it even better, we took it with the pastors and their spouses from my covenant group.  For several years now I have been a part of a group of 8 pastors who support, encourage and hold each other accountable.  We meet together twice a year to check in.  We also email each other weekly and text a prayer for each other each Sunday morning.  And we do crazy trips together.  Run 200-mile relay races from Chattanooga to Nashville.  Trek through the Florida Everglades.  This spring I took two covenant brothers with me to Kenya.  Now we are here along with our spouses (at the behest of the Florida Conference) to explore our Methodist roots.

So I got to drink out of the 300-year-old chalice used by John Wesley as I celebrated communion with my wife and colleagues and closest friends – not to mention thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ.  I would say that’s a pretty good first day!  More tomorrow.  For now, reflect on this:  In what ways do you celebrate your spiritual roots in faith?  What practices connect you to your spiritual mothers and fathers in Christ?

-Rev. David Miller