Beloit, WI

Beloit, WI
photo by Rod Gottfredsen

Friday, August 24, 2018

Our new Burse and Chalice Veil set . . .

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, we will dedicate to God's service our new burse and chalice veil, which are given to the glory of God by Gloria Hereford in loving memory of her husband, Gerald.  This lovely set completes our green paraments and will adorn our altar for years to come. 

Paraments point us to the beauty of God's holiness and to the majesty of His glory.  Christian worship is a multi-sensory experience - we hear God's Word, feel the water of Baptism, taste the bread and wine which are Christ's true body and true blood delivered to us in the Lord's Supper, and we speak our praise and thanksgiving to God through word and song.  We also behold with our eyes the symbols of our faith and the space in which we worship.  For centuries, the Church has utilized the gifts of artisans to enhance our vision of God's transcendence in worship through art and architecture.  Along with murals and statuary, paraments (tapestries and other decorative coverings clothing the altar, pulpit, and lectern) have been used to enrich the beauty of our worship spaces.  Created in the color of the liturgical seasons, these adornments center our thoughts on the themes of the given season.

The burse and chalice veil serve the purpose of dignifying the sacred vessels which bear the body and blood of Christ when His Word is joined to the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper.  These vessels - the paten (plate) and chalice (cup) ought not to be placed upon the altar uncovered as if they were forgotten there by some absent-minded preacher, but clothed with rich garments befitting the sacred purpose for which they are used.  The name "burse" comes from the Latin word for purse.  This beautiful square, which sits atop the veiled chalice prior to the Lord's Supper, contains the small cloths (purificators) used for wiping the chalice during the distribution of the Lord's Supper.  The veil, reminiscent of the tabernacle which once clothed the altar of God in days of old, was first used during the Middle Ages when the chalice was carried into worship in procession with everything else needed for the service.

Our Divine Service is divided into two parts - the service of the Word and the service of the Sacrament.  As the pastor removes first the burse and then the chalice veil, worshippers are alerted to the transition that is occurring from one service to the other.  The service of the Sacrament begins as these are removed and the chalice (made for a glorious purpose) is unveiled.

In Christ Jesus,       

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