In the Sanctuary we have in the center the Altar Table. This symbolically represents the altar in heaven before the Throne of God. This notion of avheavenly altar is biblical (Isaiah 8, Revelaton 8, Heb 13:10).
The Holy Altar has multiple symbolic meanings. First, it represents the Throne of God because through the sacraments celebrated upon this altar God’s saving and sanctifying grace is bestowed upon all people. It is also Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified, because it is upon this altar that we re-enact the Passion of our Lord and Saviour, and finally the Tomb of Christ because it is through Christ’s death that eternal life was granted to all people. This final representation is highlighted in the resurrection Matins service celebrated every Sunday because it is from the right or southern side of the altar table that the morning Gospel is proclaimed, symbolising the angel announcing the risen Christ to the Myrrhbearers.
The Altar table also contains relics of three saints which show that the Church is built on the blood of the martyrs and the lives of God's holy people. This custom comes from the early Church practice of gathering and celebrating the Eucharist on the graves of those who have lived and died for the Christian faith.
On the Altar which we notice:
1. The "Artoforion", or Tabernacle, in which is
contained the Blessed Sacrament or Host. This Host is prepared once annually during the
Day of the institution of the Sacrament, Holy Thursday. The Host, which
is Holy Communion is deposited in the Artoforion for all emergencies, for people
receive when there is no time to celebrate the complete Liturgy. Because the Lord is fully present in the Tabernacle we must always bless ourselves and bow every time we cross the middle aisle.
2. The Golden Book of the Gospels, from which the Deacon
or Priest reads the Gospel Lesson of the day.
3. The Antiminsion, or imprinted Cloth depicting the Burial
of the Lord and in which are contained Relics of a Saint. This Antiminsion is
unfolded at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful and without it the Liturgy cannot be celebrated.
4. The Blessing Cross, which the Priest uses for blessing
5. The Prayer Book, from which the Priest reads the Prayers
of the Divine Liturgy.
6. The Eternal Vigil Light or lamp, which burns olive oil
and is always lit in front of or on top of the Artoforion.
7. The Candle Sticks which are used for adornment of the