To an Unknown God

[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

  1. 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

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