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452 Streatham High Road · London · SW16 3PY · Tel: (020) 8679 6888
There are some notes below the picture.
The altar cross at Immanuel and St. Andrew Church.
When the church was rebuilt in 1988 the cross behind the altar was given in memory of Peter Dimond by the Dimond family. Peter was a member of the church who had died in tragic circumstances in 1986. The cross is an empty cross - not a crucifix bearing a figure of the dying Jesus. The empty cross is often regarded as a symbol of the risen Jesus - Jesus who died on the cross but who rose again and is alive.
From a distance our cross appears as a simple, elegant example of this traditional Christian symbol, but a closer examination reveals that, though covered with a protective varnish, it is made from sawn, unplaned timber and that, on one edge at the back, the wood is not even sawn but still has the bark of the tree attached. These features remind us that the original cross was not an attractive, decorative object or a work of art but a crude structure made for the purpose of executing someone. As likely as not it was made from rough timber or just from cut branches. Its original purpose was to inflict suffering and death, not inspire worship. Our empty cross proclaims that Jesus is risen from the dead - but the pain and death he suffered is not forgotten and is symbolised in it for those who look more closely.
The altar table itself, on which the bread and wine are placed when Holy Communion is celebrated, was presented to us by our builders, Gatton Construction Ltd, when the church was rebuilt. It was made from one of the doors of the old church building. Although the top surface has been polished smooth to provide a table top, underneath the decorative carvings of the door can still be seen.
There was no special significance in making the table from a door, apart from providing a link with the past and the previous building in particular. However, we may like to reflect that, just as the door once enabled us to enter our church, so the sacrifice and death of Jesus, which is commemorated in the bread and wine placed on the table, now enables us to enter freely into the presence of God.
(Notes by David Gray 2004 ©)
Immanuel and St. Andrew's Church - the altar table, showing the carvings below
Page last updated 17 July 2011.
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Page design by David Gray 2009
© Copyright David Gray and PCC of Immanuel and St. Andrew Streatham 2004-9. Photographs copyright David Gray 2002-9 except where otherwise stated.
Promoting the whole mission of the Church
The altar at Immanuel and St. Andrew Church with cross and banners.
The altar cross - close up from the opposite side showing the rough edge with bark at the back.
The altar cross - back view, showing the bark along one edge.
The altar table viewed from below, showing the carvings
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