Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God." Psalm 43:4
Someone once asked me why we have an altar in the center of our church sanctuary. The altar in Old Testament times was central to the worship of God’s people. That is because the altar was the place of sacrifice. The altar is still a symbol of so much for us as God’s people this day.
As we gather for worship, there in the center of it all is the place where prayer is offered. At the altar prayers are offered to God as a sacrifice of faith. There we also offer to our Lord all that we have and all that we are!
There also in our midst, in the center of it all is the family table! As the family of God gathers around the altar the Lord speaks and acts as he delivers into us, in his own words, his “body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.”
Historically the altar was the place of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. In the scriptures we see that the very center and culmination of Jesus’ earthly life was the giving of himself. He offered his life on the altar of the cross that good Friday to cast aside sin forever!
Perhaps this brings us to the most central reason why we have an altar in the center of the sanctuary. It is because Jesus Christ is the very center of our lives and all our worship! So, let us come near to the altar of our God and worship God our exceeding joy!