Friday, June 15, 2012

The Response of the Creature to the Eternal

Friday, June 15, 2012 -- Week of Proper 5, Year Two
Evelyn Underhill, 1941

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 971)
Psalms 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning)        //        73 (evening)
Ecclesiastes 11:9 - 12:14
Galatians 5:25 - 6:10  
Matthew 17:1-13

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Every time I teach an Inquirers Class on worship, I turn to Evelyn Underhill's exquisite definition:  "Worship is the response of the creature to the eternal."  In their own way, the rocks, the plants and the animals make their own response to the eternal by being what they are, but in humanity, the creation can respond with a deeper consciousness to the eternal.  From the first primitive sense of awe to a saint's experience of divine union, worship points us to the divine mystery, the deepest reality. 

Evelyn Underhill said, "The first or central act of religion is adoration, the sense of God, his otherness though nearness, his distinctness from all finite beings though not separateness, his aloofness from them.  In this great sanctus, all things justify their being and have their place.  God alone matters, God alone is:  creation only matters because of God."

She said worship might be our greatest mistake -- our human fantasy futilely trying to come to terms with the mystery that surrounds us.  Or worship "may be accepted as the most profound of man's responses to reality; and more than this, the organ of his divine knowledge and the earnest of eternal life."

When we come to Eucharist, we respond to the eternal as God has been revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  We participate in the wisdom that Jesus gave us, an example of how to be fully human, how to live in community with one another and with God.  We share in the mysterious reality of his life through the sacrament of bread and wine, a foretaste of the divine union that God intends for us.  We are healed and made whole -- forgiven, loved and free.  We become one -- with Christ, with one another, with God, with all creation.

Here is a prayer of Evelyn Underhill's --

For Wholeness

O Lord, penetrate those murky corners
where we hide memories and tendencies
on which we do not care to look,
but which we will not disinter
and yield freely up to you,
that you may purify and transmute them:
the persistent buried grudge,
the half-acknowledged enmity
which is still smouldering;
the bitterness of that loss
we have not turned into sacrifice;
the private comfort we cling to;
the secret fear of failure which saps our initiative
and is really inverted pride;
the pessimism which is an insult to your joy, Lord;
we bring all these to you,
and we review them with shame and penitence
in your steadfast light.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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