"Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you."
What Is Stripping the Altar?
Stripping of the altar – removing all ornaments, linens, candles, plants, flowers, etc. – is an ancient custom of the Church. Congregations mark the way Christ’s life was stripped from him by stripping the altar of all signs of life and beauty during a special service. This almost-bare worship space reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through his resurrection. This at-home activity mirrors the church custom, stripping a table at home instead of an altar.
- Bible or Prayer Book
- Storage box or bin
- Dark cloth
- Towels/cleaning supplies
How To Do It
- Read together Psalm 22: 1-5.
- Discuss the church custom of stripping and washing the altar and what it symbolizes.
- Gather and remove items. Go through the house to gather all icons and religious symbols that can be easily moved (crosses, statues, candles, prayer beads, etc.) Ask everyone to work silently as a sign of respect for the task. Pack these items away in the storage bins. Use dark cloth to drape any other items that are too large or permanent to pack away.
- Wash the table. Finally, remove all items from your dining or kitchen table and together wash the table thoroughly.
- Wait. Leave the table bare until Easter morning.
Digging Deeper: Additional Ideas
After all the icons have been packed away or covered, and the table has been washed, take a moment to notice how your home looks and feels. Help kids make the connection between a home without these beautiful and meaningful items and a life without Christ.
Saturday night, after everyone is in bed, do your best to unpack and uncover all of the religious items, so that when the family wakes up on Easter morning there will be more than just Easter baskets to celebrate!
Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, novice farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. She is also the Minister to Children, Youth, and Families at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons on a little farm in Shady Grove, Arkansas. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life. For more information on Jerusalem’s Faith @ Home workshops or to read about faith-filled daily living, visit her blog at jerusalemgreer.com.