By Amanda Uluhan
This week, as we prepare for an online worship gathering on Sunday, I invite you to take some time and learn about the history of the chalice, reflect on what the chalice means, and grow in your faith as an individual and perhaps as a family.
History of the Chalice
A flame within a chalice (a cup with a stem and foot) is a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. Many of our congregations kindle a flaming chalice in gatherings and worships and feature the chalice symbol prominently.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the flaming chalice, including the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope.
The Value of a Chalice at Home
Most religions use objects, and many use symbols, to act as a metaphor for their values, faith, and beliefs. The flaming chalice is one of our Unitarian Universalist symbolic objects. It is a reminder of our collective identity and history, and can serve as a more personal object as well.
Having a chalice in your home might offer a chance to remember your faith, to establish a more personal relationship with your faith, be an invitation to create more traditions at home with your family or alone that connect you to your faith. It can be so much more. What does the Flaming Chalice represent to you?
Making a Found Object Chalice at Home
Making a chalice out of every day objects is quite simple and fun! This week, I invite you to gather yourself, with a friend, a sibling, a kid. Give yourself twenty to thirty minutes for this activity. Take a couple of minutes at the beginning of this activity to just imagine things around your house. See what objects pop into mind that might resemble a flame, a cup, a foot, and a chalice. Start walking around your house, like a scavenger hunt. You can collect a lot of things, even if you don’t end up using them all. Look for things that can serve as the flame, and other objects that can serve as the chalice. Flame objects can be things like an LED candle, a beeswax candle, a votive tea light, a flashlight, a headlamp, some red and orange tissue paper, or construction paper cut out like a flame. Get creative! Next, start looking for chalices. Now, a chalice can be one piece, that has a cup to hold the flame and a stem beneath it. Or, it can be two objects-a cups placed atop a stem. At my house, I was able to find many objects to combine into a chalice, but only a couple that were chalices themselves. The kitchen is a great place to start-bowls, cups, teacups, saucers. Also, don’t forget to check outside or in your pile of art supplies-you may find some hidden chalices out there, too!
A Lego Chalice Challenge
For our friends that have taken to our Sunday morning Lego ministry, I invite you into an at-home Lego Chalice Challenge. I want to see how creative you can get with making a chalice out of your Legos at home. I know you’ll be able to make some pretty awesome chalices, with cups and a stem, but, don’t forget that a Lego Chalice still needs a flame! Here’s a picture of our church Lego Chalice, made by one of our young adults!
Send me photos of your Found-Object and Lego Chalices! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
How BIG can you make your chalice? How little of chalice can you make? What about colorful. Or, what about just one color? Can you make a chalice that lights up on it’s own? What about one that plays a song, or dances? What about a chalice made from soil, or water?
We’ll take a vote online once I’ve collected photos from you to pick some winners- one for the favorite Found-Object Chalice, and one for the favorite Lego Chalice. The winners will receive a copy of the book “A Cup of Light” by Pamela Baxter, all about the flaming chalice! We’ll also have a copy at the church to learn more about this time-honored tradition of our faith.
Where do you put your Flaming Chalice?
Chalices are often placed on an altar amongst other important memorabilia and artifacts. In our Sanctuary, there’s a very large chalice. In our classrooms, we always have a chalice at the center of the room for story time or check in. Next week, I’ll write more on how to make an alter for your chalice at home.