[Paul said,] “For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.'” – Acts 17:23
We didn’t have an altar in
the church where I was raised.
A table bore communion’s bread
and cup before us all.
I’ve seen so many tables since,
and many bear the words
inscribed “In Remembrance of Me”
(oft covered by a cloth).
Since youth I’ve been in churches where
an altar takes its place,
but rarely do they bear a word,
but speak with just their shape.
I wonder: might the wisdom of
those ancient Greeks guide us,
and note upon our altars that
we could know more of God?
Or just, perhaps, revise the way
we spell the “altar” word,
and be prepared at every point
to “alter” what we know.
A poem/prayer based on Act 17:22-31, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Sixth Sunday of Easter.
Photo by Eric Anderson.
5 thoughts on “To an Unknown God”
I like the “altar” “alter” juxtaposition in the last verse!
Thank you! The poem started heading for that pun somewhat before I started writing it.
Ah, Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa, had a table like that and I thought it should have the whole line “Do this …” like “feed one another” than how we assumed it was “eat this in remembrance” like a personal blessing rather than a charge. This is a fabulous poems to start me thinking and remembering and I do love the altar/alter play … unless we go all the way and make alter an anagram “later.”
I hadn’t spotted the anagram, but for certain people are good at feeding the hungry and sheltering the houseless “later.” In fact, the communion table at Church of the Holy Cross *does* include the whole line: “Do this in remembrance of me.” It’s deliberately fuzzy in the photo.
When I was at the Somerville church a favorite communion choir pieces was this old familiar: In remembrance of Me eat this bread
In remembrance of Me drink this wine
In remembrance of Me pray for the time
When God’s own will is done
In remembrance of Me heal the sick
In remembrance of Me feed the poor
In remembrance of Me open the door
And let your brother in let Him in
Take eat and be comforted
Drink and remember too
That this is My body
And precious blood shed for you shed for you
In remembrance of Me search for truth
In remembrance of Me always love
In remembrance of Me don’t look above
But in your heart
Look in your heart for God
Do this in remembrance of Me