Build an Altar to the Lord

Dear Friends

An altar is not just a table, an incidental necessity for the purposes of worship and sacrifice, but marks the point of an encounter with God. We see this with the patriarch Abraham, while he was still known as Abram.

Then the Lᴏʀᴅ appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ And there he built an altar to the Lᴏʀᴅ, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 12:7

And here he was following the rites established by our forefather Noah, who came into contact with God and built an altar.

Then God spoke to Noah, saying,
‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.’ …
So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.
Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lᴏʀᴅ, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And the Lᴏʀᴅ smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lᴏʀᴅ said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.’

Genesis 8:15–16, 18–21

Not just in any place, but there, where the Lord has appeared, an altar was built. This continued through the Old Testament so that at the time of Moses and Aaron we have the Tabernacle and later, at the time of Solomon, the Temple. Still it was Israel who were the People of God, but the place where they gathered was set aside, consecrated and made holy by the presence of God.

And so King David swore,
I shall not enter my dwelling,
I shall not recline on my bed,
I shall not close my eyes in sleep
Nor my eyelids for dozing,
Nor give any rest to my temples,
Until I find a place for the Lord,
A tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

Psalm 131:3–5 ʟxx

And what of us? We gather together for worship and yet a short while afterwards,

The wind passes through it, and it shall not remain;
And it shall no longer know its place.

Psalm 102:16 ʟxx

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is no easy task but if we are to be truly the Church, the People of God, then we should be working together, regularly and with vigour, for us to raise a worthy altar to God, a Church building to his glory, that the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob may have a fitting House to his Glory in our community.

Even King David could not achieve this, yet the Lord blessed his endeavours and allowed its fulfillment under his son Solomon. Without endeavour on our part, without a desire to offer what we have to the living God, we will not receive such a blessing.

Let us, my dear brothers and sisters, mark the place where God appears to us, his people, with an altar and offer all we have—our prayers, our talents, our treasuries, our energies—that we may accomplish this worthy goal and have Heaven descend to Earth in God’s Church that all may ascend to the Lord and be joined to him.

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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

I come before the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, and demand of him that he grant my requests. These are good things, noble things, things for which we should pray. I bring in others to pray alongside me, but the Lord does not answer me. And so I complain against God, “Why did you ignore my requests?”

And the Lord speaks directly to me, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” I am faithless because I consider the Lord to exist purely to satisfy my requests, to be my genie as I journey through this life. And, not finding satisfaction with Christianity, I join myself to a genie—a demon—who will grant my requests: the demon of money, the demon of greed, the demon of pleasures, the demon of sloth. I have invited them in and these have all taken a hold over me so I cannot escape. And being brought into the presence of the Lord I fall to the ground, convulsing, unable to stand before him.

And the Lord rebukes the unclean spirits which I have invited in and I am washed and freed.

Elsewhere, the Lord tells us,

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43–45, see also Luke 11:24–26)

I have been cleansed, I have been washed, I have been purified and put in order, but unless I invite the Spirit of God in to take up his abode in me I remain susceptible for the return of the evil spirit along with seven others. And the Lord gives to us the method by which we may stay faithful to him and freed from the genies and unclean spirits, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Read last Sunday’s Sermon, Unclean spirits.
Archive of Past Sermons.

Services this week

Friday 19th April
Discussion on the Gospel of Matthew, 8 pm
Online only

Saturday 20th April
Great Vespers, 6.30 pm
At 3rd URC Scout HQ, Chandlers Ford

Sunday 21st April
Matins & Divine Liturgy, 9 am
At 3rd URC Scout HQ, Chandlers Ford

Online session is via Google Meet: please get in contact for the details.

Please join us: all are welcome, come and see.

Attending Church

We meet at 3rd URC Scout HQ, Kings Rd, Chandlers Ford SO53 2EY. The Scout hall is behind and to the left of the URC Church. Come and See.

Can I help you?

I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.

Can you help the parish?

Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.

Your prayers!

With love in Christ

Fr Alexander
[email protected]