“Check out any church altar built in the 19th century. Churches didn’t pay for altars. They honored the carpenter most celebrated locally for craftsmanship by invitation to build it. An Oscar-like event—be awarded the contract to build an altar for a church.” (A post from Len Sweet)
Which altar? In churches with split chancels, the altar is what Baptists call the Communion Table. The pulpit and lectern are separated to give open access to the altar. Sweet is Wesleyan so my guess is the “altar” refers to the bench in front of the platform where people kneel to pray through or give their lives to Jesus.
A church in South Carolina is solidly wood with pine and other native wood on the walls, pews, floor and platform. I like wood, but this building felt different. It was immaculate. I asked who cleaned the church. “We take turns. The men in our grandfather’s generation went into the hills to bring lumber to build the building. We would be dishonoring them if we didn’t clean the sanctuary with love.”
Do you catch the significance of building and the great honor of being chosen to build the altar? To be chosen to prepare the place where contact with God is enjoyed!
Wonder if Jesus built altars? He built yokes which were considered the best because they “fit most comfortably.” A bench that invited a revisit. Made of cherry, mahogany, pine, fur carved to fit elbows and foreheads. Where wood fragrances envelope and the grain reminds you of strength and beauty God is instilling in you as you kneel there.
What an honor to be selected to build an altar where the presence of God is hosted. Is there a greater partnership than hosting the presence of God? At tables, in the woods, at Starbucks, sitting on a boulder overlooking a snow-covered landscape. It may be our uttermost evangelistic tool—to create atmospheres where we and friends will sense we are in the Presence.
©2018 D. Dean Benton