(Yes that title’s an homage to former Cub broadcasters Jack Brickhouse and Harry “Holy Cow” Carey, for those keeping score. Now on to our real subject: communion — boring though it may be compared to the “hot stove” league.)
This may have been obvious to millions of people over the years, but for some reason one simple piece of information about the Last Supper seems to have sort of escaped me till now:
The grail was not the mythical, golden $20,000 jewel-encrusted chalice we we’ve been told it was by well-intentioned artists and ministers. No, it was instead two cents worth of clay — thrown on a wheel and fired in a simple oven.
The contrast occurred to me at communion last sunday, when I had a choice between a golden (brass?) chalice and a simple brown pottery cup. (I went for pottery.)
The original grail must have looked like the brown one. It probably had chips, was well-used and unpainted, and occupied no place of honor at the table, neither before nor after that day.
And then it was lost — contrary to all those cool legends involving knights who say “Nee!”. And for that matter, has any other cup also been called a grail, or was that the only one ever made? It’s funny to think about (okay, funny to me…)
I believe the grail was lost because it was not the point: the contents were. The blood and the Spirit did their work from that moment onward, and the grail was almost certainly shattered eventually, and returned to the earth from whence it came. Like that whole ashes-to-ashes thing. You may even have tread upon some of the dust of it yourself.
Jesus was a poor man, as were most of his friends. But to badly paraphrase those Mastercard commercials: “One ancient clay cup: Two cents. Drinking wine that enfolds you in a community and redeems all of mankind: priceless.”