The little tin cup sits in honor on our shelves on Christmas. The history of this cup began in tragedy, foreshadowed martyrdom, and now is a symbol to us of the joy that comes at the End of history.
We are born and no matter who were are, what goes wrong, we can, if we will, live happily ever after world without end.
What is the story of our cup?
Nicholas Romanov was not ready to be Tsar. His virile father, Alexander III, did not expect his death and had done too little to train his heir. Wouldn’t there be time later? There was not. The young Tsar’s consort, Alexandra, was still adjusting to life in court, Orthodoxy, and Russia, and was even less prepared for her role.
Death came unexpectedly and, ready or not, Nicholas would be crowned.
The custom was to give gifts and a feast for everyone and the plans were on a grand scale. Official incompetence placed the event for the masses of the Russian people in an area covered with trenches used in military excercises. A rumor began that there would not be enough food, drink, or gifts for everyone. Half a million filled the area and many surged for the stands. The resulting panic led to the trampling deaths of almost fifteen hundred souls.
When informed, the young Tsar wanted to cancel festivities, but older and “wiser” heads prevailed on him to continue to a ball. Nicholas and Alexandra would visit the injured, give large grants to the survivors, and investigate the incident, but the damage was done. The reign had begun in blood and with apparent disregard for the deaths of so many common folk.
The portents were bad, the chain of office slipped off the new Tsar and fell to the ground during the ceremony, but the deaths were worse. Hundreds died from panic, mismanagement. Those deaths were, in part, to secure one of the tin cups. There were few moments in his reign when Nicholas did not feel like the Saint of his Nameday: Job. He wanted to rule wisely, had great personal integrity, but did badly.His reign and rule ended in revolution and regicide. The Tsar followed the victims of the tragedy at the Khodynka fields to death and millions more would die when the atheists who seized Russia declared war on reason and revelation.
Here, by God’s good grace, the story changes. The Tsar may not have reigned so well, but he loved well. He had courage, dignity and grace in captivity and with his family found martyrdom in death. Millions more would follow his example and refuse to deny their God, their morality, and their country. They too died.
Was all this senseless?
Lenin and his murderous heir Stalin thought so. If you did not win in this life, there was no point. History may praise you for a noble death, but you will not be about to hear the praise. Alas, you will be worm food sans dignity, sans hope, sans everything.
Win now and as far as you are concerned, you win: story ended.
Christianity says that there is hope for those who died at Khodynka, hope for the Tsar, and hope for the millions atheism butchered. There is even hope for the atheists! Eternity is long and over time, healing can come, wrongs can be righted, and justice done.
All men are equal, those with tin cups and those who died getting one. All God’s children can be kings and queens under the High King of Heaven. So this Christmas our little tin cup, brought to us over the seas, sits reminding us that a story begins in a coronation gone horribly wrong, but will end with everyone who wishes being coronated at a feast without end.
We will all end up drinking from a cup, not one made of tin, but the Holy Grail.
I have written about my dreams of these events here.