“Bring your all to the altar.” Those are the instructions we are given during corporate worship and prayer services. Indeed, the altar is central to church life. The altar has great significance and meaning for Christians everywhere. The church altar is the place where the pastor/preacher stands to offer salvation and to serve communion. Babies are blessed there and couples married. It is the place where we are instructed to go to cast down our burdens. It is the place where we are to “let go and let God.” It is a place for prayer. It is a place for lament. It is a place where deliverance can happen. It is a place of decision. It is a place of fellowship with God and one another.
In many ways, the altar is an inner sanctum within the sanctuary. A refuge. A place to retreat and regroup. A place where we gain strength and courage to move forward toward our God-given purpose. A place where healing is embraced and possibilities are without limitations.
Unfortunately, the church sanctuary is not always a sanctuary for everyone. The place that should be the safest can be the most harmful place to be, particularly for victims of domestic violence. However, what we can learn from the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is that what appeared to be defeat, turned out to be the greatest victory known to humankind. There is safety and a way out for victims of domestic violence–those sitting in the pews and those standing in our pulpits.
So this Easter season, my prayer is that you are able to leave your burdens at the altar and that what looks like your biggest failure will be transformed into your greatest triumph. In Jesus’ name. Amen.