Did you know that there is a bird in the high altar?
The carving on the front of the holy table or high altar is a rising phoenix – a very early symbol for the Resurrection, borrowed from Byzantine art – a strange mythical bird that rose from the ashes of the fire in which it had been burned. The word phoenix is a Greek word for a date-palm tree. The ashes of burned date palm trees were anciently regarded as the best fertilizer for their seedlings. A new life risen from the old.
On September 7, 1966, All Saints Kingsway was gutted by fire. That fire united the whole congregation to restore the building as it stands today. So from the ashes, the congregation (seedlings) brought the phoenix (our church) to rebirth. So the next time you take communion at the communion rail, have a look at the bird in the altar.
What other symbols are seen in the altar and why do you think they are there?