Sunday, February 12, 2012

Invisible Altars

Across the world on any given Sunday, millions of people gather around Altars. Some are huge examples of Gothic architecture, swathed in multicolored fabric and set with candlesticks, plates and chalices that are worth a small fortune. Others are simple tables that spend most of their week playing host to card games or coffee and conversation. No gold-encrusted crosses on these, maybe a single candle or bare cross.

These tables may represent a vast range in financial value, but all of them become Sunday symbols - a place where Heaven and Earth meet. They may be lavish or simple, but what they represent is a powerful mystery. Divinity reaches out to Humanity at these holy tables...

...and we reach back.

More symbols, wine and bread, some specially made by church members, others purchased. It may seem sacrilegious to suggest that someone may purchase the Body of Christ at Walmart, and the blood of Christ at the local liquor store. Maybe that is a little too much reality injected into Holy Mystery.

We reach back as we stand, kneel, pray, weep at these Altars. We commune with God. We wrestle and we beg, we promise and sometimes we even threaten.

Here before these tables we encounter God, and then we leave.

We step back into the reality of our daily existence. Computer screens and automobiles. Forgotten passwords and lunch at our desk. Laundry and bills. We don't look for Altars in our daily lives. Those are for sanctuaries and chapels. For Sundays and special services. But they are there.

Invisible Altars.

The table where you eat your microwaved lunch with friends is as much an Altar as the marble carved block in the local cathedral. The lavish feast with friends, is as much a place to commune with God as the mug of tomato soup illuminated by the computer screen.

Every moment of our existence is spent surrounded by invisible Altars. God is in Walmart and at Tiffanys. Every table is an altar, every encounter a divine one. There is not a moment in time or a place on the planet where God does not touch the Earth, but somehow Sunday's expectation gets swamped by Monday's To Do list and we no longer anticipate the kiss of Heaven.

This week, look for the invisible Altars.

God is patiently waiting there.

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