Symbols: Cup and Bird

 We are in a conversation about the early church symbols and what they teach us about Jesus plan for humanity. When we join in a community of faith, one thing that we should remember is that this is a community not just of identity, but of  participation. This image of a bird drinking from a cup was one image that the early church used to indicate their presence. There are a few particulars about this image that can teach us about the direction of the early believers and the direction God wants for us. This direction will be important, since we are in need of this direction to change our world today.

The bird drinking from cup stands for believers taking part in Christ’s covenant with humanity. Community was one of the most important things in the early church. Without it, one could say that they probably would not have lasted. The community, however, was not just about hanging out together. The community was centered around Jesus. The people, in essence were drinking from a cup that was crucial to their survival. Th cup also represents Christ being the water of life. This community that Jesus had formed was part of the package that He gave to us. Seeing community like this makes it not optional, but crucial to a healthy Christian lifestyle.

Some images had the bird sitting on a palm branch. Palm branches usually stood for the peace throughout the Roman Empire. Obviously, for Christians, it stood for the peace of Christ. It’s interesting that this would be included in this image. The community of Jesus was to be defined by peace. This community was given the responsibility of bringing peace and well being to each other. For today, we can ask ourselves if we live by this model. A quick look at the New Testament description shows us an early church that would do whatever they could to take care of everyone and bring on the peace of Christ. Do we do the same? How many people are in need in our very own communities that we reach out to? Or is our community judging and with-holding true help for these people? The early church understood that we should care for those in our communities. That calling has never changed.

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