The communion table in church is not an altar. Though even the most reformed of us will refer to an Altar Call, we don’t associate this with the furniture.
The altar is a symbol of sacrifice and dedication. It was the place of meeting with God, and in temple times became the heart of the community at worship. I guess that’s why it may also have become a symbol of God’s hospitality.
Before the temple days, it referred to something that was built as a memorial after a significant (life-changing) encounter with God. Like Jacob built after wrestling with God, or was left in the Red Sea as it was crossed. The celtic Christians would say it marked a ‘thin’ place, where the distance between heaven and earth was small.
We have become a memorial-building culture, often to mark loss, and so at the same time designate a place of hope. Roadside memorials, murals, and even sculptures.
These photos were taken a this afternoon (Friday) on Rossall. This piece of steel looks like it is awaiting its homecoming somewhere on the beach. It’s impressive. I hope it doesn’t just become an intricate graffiti wall.
I don’t know the story. I look forward to finding out.
In inviting God to come and be encountered in his life, Wesley wrote ‘Kindle a flame of sacred fire on the mean altar of my heart.’
The temple in Jerusalem was razed following the resurrection. God’s dwelling place was now at large with his people. Emmanuel, God with us and in us. If we are God’s temple, then that’s where the altar is.
We are both place of encounter, past present and to come, and God’s living monuments to hope.