Earthy, Material, Mundane Worship

Here’s another quotation from Smith’s book on worship, cultural liturgies, and desire. It speaks to the earthiness of worship and God’s ultimate affirmation of earthiness through Christ’s incarnation and resurrection.

“One of the first things that should strike us about Christian worship is how earthy, material, and mundane it is…Right here in Christian worship we have a sort of microcosm of creation – the ‘world in a wafer.’ And behind and under and in all of this is a core conviction, an implicit understanding that God inhabits all this earthy stuff, that we meet God in the material realities of water and wine, that God embraces our embodiment, embraces us in our embodiment. So before we articulate the conceptual affirmation of the goodness of creation (Gen. 1:31) that is integral to a Christian worldview, an understanding of this is enacted and performed by the church’s worship. That God would meet us in the mundane and earthy is a performance of God’s affirmation of creation and materiality as a good to be enjoyed and as a gift to be received, rather than a regrettable and lamentable condition from which we can hope to escape. The goodness of creation as a belief and even ontological claim makes sense for us because we first experience the blessing, sanctification, and riches of the material world in the joy and pleasure of Christian worship. There is a performative sanctioning of embodiment that is implicit in Christian worship, invoking the ultimate performance sanctioning of the body in the incarnation – which itself recalls the love of God that gave birth to the material creation – its reaffirmation in the resurrection of Jesus, and looks forward to the resurrection of the body as an eschatological and eternal affirmation of the goodness of creation.”

-James K.A. Smith in Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker Academic, 2009), pp. 139-140

Credit: Jimmey LeBlanc


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