The Sanctuary Lamp
Ever wondered what that red lamp in the beautifully ornate brass frame just to the right of the altar is all about? Well, that is the “Sanctuary Lamp” or, as it is sometimes called, the “everlasting flame.”
Why is it there?
The practice goes all the way back to the book of Exodus, in which God commands that the Temple have a lamp that is never extinguished (Exodus 27:20-21). This is the lamp, by the way, from which the Hanukkah miracle originates.
In the Christian tradition, the Sanctuary Lamp continues. Like the Old Testament, the lamp reminds us that God is present, and so the sanctuary is a place of peace and quiet reverence. Christians who believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which includes Lutherans) also use the lamp to indicate that consecrated bread (also called, The Host) is present, concretely reminding us of God’s real, tangible presence among us in our daily lives. The reserved Host are in a ciborium (a metal bowl with a lid) inside the closet next to the altar.
So when you see the light, remember that God is near and give thanks!
–Associate Pastor Ashley Hall, July 2012