Worshipping with our bodies (and more)

Father Stephen Freeman offers up another pearl: Ourselves, Our Souls, Our Bodies — More on Faith.

And here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto Thee…

From Thomas Cranmer’s Eucharistic Prayer

Both Cranmer’s poetry and the inspired writings of St. Paul point to a relationship with God that includes our bodies. This can be read in a merely moral manner, in which keeping our bodies pure of bodily sin is seen as the sacrifice of which St. Paul speaks. For myself, I think that Cranmer has caught the greater intent of St. Paul’s statement in his expansion: “our selves, our souls and bodies.” And, I think as well, that it is most appropriate that he included this within the context of Eucharistic worship.

In modern practice, much of Christian worship and the Christian life, has been reduced to the mental level – whether of the will, intellectual assent, or the emotions (the emotions are a part of the mind – not the “heart” as it is classically used in the fathers). These are not wrong things to offer to God – but they can be quite misleading in their imbalance. Perhaps the most serious mistake that can be drawn from these mental offerings, is the effective reduction of God to an idea. God is not an idea, and virtually every idea we have of Him is either mistaken or idolatrous.

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