In the center of the Sanctuary there is the Altar Table. This symbolically represents the altar in heaven before the Throne of God. This notion of a heavenly altar is biblical (Isaiah 8, Revelaton 8, Heb 13:10).
The Holy Altar has multiple symbolic meanings. First, it represents the Throne of God. 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. It is upon this altar that we partici pate inthe Passion of our Lord and Saviour. Finally, it represents the Tomb of Christ. 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 the morning Gospel is proclaimed from the right or southern side of the altar table symbolising the angel announcing the risen Christ to the Myrrhbearers.
The Altar table also contains relics of three saints showing 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 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 to 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 the Congregation.
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 Altar Table.