Brothers and sisters, I want you to be sure of the fact that our ancestors were all under the cloud and they all went through the sea. 2 All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 All ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
A few years back, right after being commissioned as a provisional elder, I received an unexpected email from my grandfather’s cousin. If you know anything about my family history, it would not surprise you to know that he is a retired Methodist pastor. He was contacting me about a travel communion set he had in his possession that belonged to his father, Stephen James Callender, who was the youngest chaplain in the WWI Navy. His first assignment was to the USS Hancock in Boston, and he used the set to serve those afflicted with the 1918 Flu Pandemic. It was not lost on me that he used it during the flu pandemic, and I was being gifted it during the COVID pandemic. Well, as the story goes, as he was given the communion kit, the commanding officer told him, “Chaplain, they are dying like flies aboard that ship. They need you. We wish you well” He somehow never got the flu, and after being discharged, went on to seminary.
The kit isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen. Despite being a small box, the design makes it so you can serve probably close to 100 people and can serve one handed to keep easily refilling the elements. It has wear and much evidence of being used to serve many who needed a reminder of God’s invitation to the table. It was moving the first time I used it, because I was serving and being served from the exact chalice my family has served and been served from. I was serving and being served from the exact chalice that so many have been nourished in their spirit from, even during war and pandemic.
When I look at today’s text from 1 Corinthians, I hear the reminder of that connection, of ancestors being under the same cloud and through the same sea, of us sharing the same spiritual food and drink – that we are connected by drinking from the rock, the chalice that is our Lord, Jesus Christ. When we share in these practices of lent together, break bread together, sing songs that Christians have been singing for centuries together – we experience this connection to Christ and can be fed.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What is nourishing your spirit this lent? Where does tradition and legacy play a part in how you experience God?
Prayer: God of all, connect us through this intricate web of life. May we feel the faith and dedication of those before us, on how their love for you has brought us to where we are today. Amen.
As We Begin Lent
For our Lent series this year, we’ll be using the Adam Hamilton book Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws. At his website, you can find a 40-day reading plan to help you read through the Gospel of Luke during Lent. And join us for worship, in-person or online, at 9:00 & 10:30 every Sunday.