Throwback Thursday: Chalkboard Altar

18 09 2014

Chalkboard paint has been ubiquitous in the crafting world for several years.  The ultimate DIY supply, it can spruce up and personalize anything…from tabletops to wine glasses.

Two years ago, we decided to redo the altar in our youth room, using — you guessed it — chalkboard paint. The project itself was simple. We already had a wooden altar, and we just painted it with three coats of paint.

After that, the possibilities were endless!

Altar1Notice the mirrors on the wall? 

Wondering what you could do with a chalkboard altar? Here are just a few ideas to spark your creativity:

Altar21. Distribute copies of a Scripture passage. Ask students to write or draw the images or words that stand out to them the most. (In the photo at left, students responded to Hebrews 13:15-16)

2. Collaborate with the budding artists in your youth group ahead of time, and invite them to create an original backdrop to enhance your upcoming series or worship service.

3. Collect prayer requests by encouraging students to write down the names of people whom they would like to pray for.

4. Write out a simple Bible verse, and lead students in a Word Association Prayer.

Altar45. Pose a question to your students, and ask them to answer it on the altar.  (In the photo at right, we asked students about something they wanted to say “no” to. On the other side of the altar, not pictured, they illustrated what they wanted to say “yes” to.)

6. Divide students into groups, and assign them each a section from a longer passage of Scripture. Have them illustrate the passage, storyboard style, with each group in charge of one panel.

7. Set up an ongoing prayer station, where students can freely come to write or draw whatever is on their heart.

8. Cover the altar in chalk, and explore the spiritual practice of erasing. Might be a great object lesson to teach about forgiveness!

How else could you use a chalkboard altar??

 





The Lunatic Gospel: Genesis 13-14

21 08 2009

Click here to read the full text of Genesis 13 and 14.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
– Genesis 13:3-4

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
– Genesis 13:18

What is it with this guy?? Everywhere he goes, he stops and builds an altar to the Lord–and he doesn’t just leave them there, he comes back and revisits them. So, presumably, you could follow in his footsteps through this trail of altars. Which leads me to wonder: what kind of trail are we leaving? Bread crumbs? Footprints? Or … altars? Is worship our first impulse at every step of our spiritual journey?

Enough with the rhetorical questions. What really interests me about this passage is what Abram does once he gets to the altar: he “calls upon the name of the Lord.” He did it in the last chapter, too. (In fact, we are told in Genesis 4, that Adam’s children’s generation was the first to do so!) We’re back to this whole concept of names–only this time, it’s God’s name that is in question.

And, according to the scholarly view, Abram doesn’t even know God’s name (YHWH) yet! That doesn’t happen until chapter 15!

Over the past few years, I’ve wrestled a lot with the idea of a chosen people. It just doesn’t seem fair. If God originally intended to extend salvation to everyone (as we believe happened with Christianity), why didn’t he just do it to begin with? And why does Jesus say that salvation comes from the Jews? Why would Jesus endorse Jewish legalism, when it seems to be contrary to everything else he says?

But Abram is praised for his faith. His salvation does not come from his obedience–not really. He obeys because he is faithful. He brings salvation to his nation through his own faith. And the generations that follow are given a legal code which sets them apart. They obey the laws, and they go through the motions of worship, because they believe in this strange, omnipotent God.  The idea of “salvation by faith” is at the core of Judaism, too, it appears. It is a supreme leap of faith to allow yourself to be set apart as a nation.

I also have, at times, found myself questioning the fairness of Jesus’ coming so late in the Bible. What about all the faithful people in the Old Testament who came before Jesus? Were they “saved”?  I don’t have the answer, nor will I ever claim to, but I offer up this verse as food for thought:

“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
– Joel 2:32a

(originally posted 9/1/08 at http://thelunaticgospel.blogspot.com)