Scot McKnight wrote:
The Eucharist, whether you celebrate and participate daily, weekly, monthly or otherwise, needs to be seen as a Table instead of an Altar. The apostle Paul calls it the "Lord's Table" in 1 Cor 10:1 and on the table food was served.
At the altar, blood was spilled or poured out; what was sacrificed in the Temple was then eaten at the Table. The Altar for the Christian is the Cross; the Table is for the Lord's Supper.
At the Altar, the sinner is forgiven; at the Table the forgiven sinner communes with God.
The cross is a place of sorrow; the Table a place for joy.
So, if you today are celebrating Eucharist, ponder the difference between Altar and Table, and imagine yourself at the Lord's Table to give thanksgiving for the joy of communing with God in the forgiveness of sins.
Brandon Vogt replied:
May 2, 2010 3:46 PM
The only proper description of "the table" as an altar is in the Catholic Mass, a liturgy that involves the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary. If there is no sacrifice, there is no altar.
The idea of altar doesn't really make sense in the Protestant world, but in the Catholic mind the sacrifice of the Mass is central. Hebrews describes Jesus as the living high-priest. Central to this role of priest is the sacrifice he offers for his people. No sacrifice, no priest; giving sacrifices is what makes a priest a priest.
I think this idea of altar/sacrifice also has deep ramifications for the ways that Catholics and Protestants each understand their faiths. Protestants come to "the table" only to be fed, which at times is a blunt form of spiritual consumerism; it doesn't require much other than to show up. Whereas Catholics come to be fed (at "the table"), but also to participate in Jesus' sacrifice, in addition; to give, to sacrifice.
You are right in noting that after sacrifice, the sacrifice is consumed at the Table. This is the whole spirituality of the Eucharist, the literal body and blood of Jesus. We eat the sacrifice, as in the Passover.
Without a proper understanding of sacrifice and Eucharist, I would argue that "the Table" and the "Lord's supper" are incomplete and--to a certain extent--become incoherent