Question: Why do the pastors drink the wine remaining in the chalice after communion?
Answer: Perhaps you have noticed that, at the end of communion distribution, the pastors (and sometimes the elder) drink the wine that is left in the chalice.? And, if you have noticed this, you may wonder why this is done.
If so, it is helpful to remember what that wine is.? It is the wine to which God?s Word has been joined in the sacrament.? That wine has been
consecrated; Jesus? words ?This cup is the new testament in my blood? have been spoken over it.? These words of blessing set this wine apart for use in communion.? These words mean that this wine is, miraculously, also the blood of Christ, given to us to drink.
Through this very wine God came to us and gave us Christ?s body and blood.? Through this very wine God offers and gives to us forgiveness, life, and salvation.? This consecrated wine has been part of this wonderful sacrament; God has worked through it to come to us and give us his eternal blessings.
What then ought we to do with this remaining wine?? Given the high purpose and value God has given to it, we will want to treat this wine with reverence and respect.? We believe that through this very wine God has been present for us?to give us forgiveness.? When we comprehend this great blessing given to us through the wine, we stand in awe and reverence before God.
Part of this awe and reverence is treating with respect those earthly means God uses to grant us his blessings?including the wine used in communion.? It is similar to the Old Testament and God?s commands there regarding the tabernacle and its furnishings?which were to be treated with the greatest respect and reverence.? In the same way, we treat with respect and reverence God?s house among us?his church?and all that is used within that church.? (I remember my parents yelling at me when, as a youngster, I was horsing around in church after the
service.? This was a reminder that church is God?s house, not a playground.)
Or, we might compare this to our handling of earthly things.? A family heirloom?an old wedding ring, a table in the family for generations, or something similar?is treated with great care and respect.? Some of these heirlooms have little value in themselves; but, because they have been in the family for years, they have great value to us.? And so we carefully guard and keep them.? In the same way, we carefully guard and keep those earthly means God uses to grant us his blessings, which certainly include the wine remaining after communion distribution.
How then do we treat the wine that remains after communion with respect and reverence, recognizing the blessings God has given through it?? Much of the wine is reserved for use in future communion services?that which is in the flagon (the pitcher) and the wine in the unused individual cups is saved for this purpose.? But the wine in the chalice?which has been shared by many people?is handled differently.? Currently, this wine is consumed in order to reverently dispose of it.? Here at Zion, before the pastors consumed this wine, it would be poured out on the ground.? This kept it separate from our drains and sewers (to treat it with respect and reverence), but (in our opinion) the more reverent practice is to simply consume this wine.
This is the practice in many churches throughout our neighborhood and our world today, as it has been for centuries.? Precedent for this may be found in the Old Testament Passover.? When God instituted this meal for his people, he instructed them to consume all of it; anything that was left over was to be burnt (Exodus 12:10).? If this lamb, through which God delivered his people from death, was to be consumed completely or reverently disposed of, how much more the body and blood of the true Passover Lamb, Christ Jesus, our Lord!