Communion Meditations (2024)


Altar of the Lord

Originally scheduled for April 7

Our church high school group had put together a musical production portraying certain parts of the Gospels. After performing it at our home church we repeated the performance at various neighboring churches. This was usually done on the Sunday evening. One such Sunday evening was particularly memorable. With six high school boys to help me I arrived early to set up the lights and sound. A most formidable obstacle soon faced us. In the middle of the platform there was a very large, very heavy communion table. It took all six of our lads to move it, and even with six it was a struggle.
We had it about halfway off stage when an elderly gentleman in coat and tie came puffing down the aisle in an obvious panic. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” We stopped. Coming up to us he pointed a finger heavenward and declaimed, “That is the ALTAR OF THE LORD! It may not be touched with human hands.” Satisfied that he had done his best impersonation of Moses with the stone tablets, he turned on his heel as if to leave. Five steps later he paused; turned around again and pointed towards heaven and said, “Put it back.”
How we were supposed to put it back without touching it with human hands remains a mystery. The gentleman left; we made sure he was gone before we picked it up and put it back. It was quite a nuisance in the performance.
Leaving aside the question of touching the communion table with human hands, we can look at this incident as instruction. No other piece of furniture in the ordinary church building could be described in the same way. The table on which the communion trays are placed is indeed an altar, for an altar is the place you bring a sacrifice. Christ is our Passover sacrifice for sin; the elements represent his body and blood and it is therefore fitting that they be placed on a table which is referred to as an altar. It meets the definition.
Such an altar serves as a reminder of the reverence with which communion should be taken. It is not an interruption of the service, but the center point: Christ died for our sins. This is the reminder he implemented so that we would always remember that one central fact. He took the unleavened bread, blessed it, and said of it, “this is my body.” He took the cup in similar manner and said of it, “this is my blood.” We are told to examine ourselves before doing this. This is so that we can do it with a pure heart, with due reverence and the lasting memory of his sacrifice on the Cross. Honor your Lord and Savior by participating in the one simple act of worship he commanded. Do this in remembrance of Him.

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