Come to the Altar


al · tar
a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.

Here I come, to this altar again, this place to meet God. Where trees sway, birds sing, mowers mow, wind whooshes. It’s here where I write, where I ponder, where I reflect. It’s me, my pen, and a blank piece of paper. It’s the blinking cursor on a white screen. The space I sit is where I slow down to notice details.  Like the birds who come to and fro to this little church, their own altar of sorts. Her and her helpmate build a nest, ready for new life. They each take turns gathering and building, but always returning.

The altar is the place where I offer myself, the sacrifice I bring, the place of meeting the divine. The altar is the place I return to time and again to feed and to be fed. It’s an ebb and flow. A give and receive. We all have something to bring to this altar. We all have something to receive at this altar. Each of us. And, when I bring mine, this ordinary gift, this fumbling of myself, words and watercolor, this little pittance, God is right there to meet me.  In my consistent returning, deep in my Spirit, I hear, “You didn’t think I only live in a church building, did you?”

To Ponder:
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God  and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
– Genesis 28:16-22

Consider the place(s) in your life where you give and receive? Is it easy or difficult to name this place an altar; a meeting place of God? Allow your acceptance or resistance to be your prayer.

Dinner Conversation:
When does giving come naturally for you? In order to offer yourself in this life-giving way, what (good things) do you have to say no to (Ex: time with friends, volunteering, reading, etc.) Notice how you receive from giving of yourself sacrificially.

Further Reading:
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor



  1. Maggie Simmons

    Beautiful way to begin my week!! I am planning to come to the last day of prayer on May 6, and am looking forward to it! Saw you in church with your Mom and Dad, but didn’t get to speak to you all. Enjoy your visit! blessings. 🤗 Maggie

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Kristen Rietkerk

    This is the making of a beautiful sermon. Thanks Ally for reminding me that we “taste, eat, remember and believe” in a variety of spaces and places in our lives–NOT simply on Sunday at “that” altar. What do I bring? What do I need from Him?

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