Cups and Cleanliness
With this week’s address I sincerely hope I don’t freak out anybody about receiving Holy Communion, but it is important to consider some reasons why it may not be safer to receive wine in individual cups rather than from a common cup. Let me hasten to say, even though it is arguably less safe hygienically to drink from individual cups, nonetheless, there is no public or medical indication that viral epidemics are occurring from any method used for Holy Communion.
That said, first we must understand that hands, fingers, plastic, and glass are all better hosts for germs and viruses than is sterile metal, especially if that metal is repeatedly washed or covered with a fluid containing alcohol.
When the Altar Care person fills the cup, even with care it is next to impossible to handle and fill the individual glasses without touching the rim of the cups. Hopefully that person has appropriately washed their hands before doing so, but even then it is likely that fingers will come in contact with other objects during that process. Alternatively, it is easy to handle and fill a chalice without ever making contact with the rim of the cup.
Then there is the whole matter of taking the cup out of the tray. It is hard to do so without fingers touching the rim, and often while touching adjoining cups as well. So even if the Pastor or Communion Assistant doesn’t hand you the cup, your hands were not recently washed. Your hands have come in contact with steering wheels, door knobs, bulletins, hymnals, money, and handshakes. Fingertips are readily recognized to be dirtier than the whole hand in general. So you might be transmitting other’s germs through your own touching and handling!
My whole point is not to gross you out. Rather, I want you to consider how you may be taking a greater risk with the individual cups than with the common cup.
Since You Asked…
What is the Significance of The Baptism of Our Lord?
John the Baptist came proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Since Jesus was sinless he had no need to be forgiven. The human race, however, is sinful. And our need for forgiveness is great indeed. In explaining why he should be baptized by John, Jesus said, it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, Jesus came to stand with us and accomplish on our behalf all that God requires of us, including repentance and the forgiveness of sins! At his baptism there was a revealing (an epiphany) of the Holy Trinity. And at his baptism, Jesus took our humanity which he assumed in the Incarnation and lowered it in the cleansing water of Baptism. His public ministry would commence with this public rite.