I couldn't resist a few more quotes from James K.A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom, this time on the theme of worship:
One of the first things that should strike us about Christian worship is how earthy, material, and mundane it is. To engage in worship requires a body—with lungs to sing, knees to kneel, legs to stand, arms to raise, eyes to weep, noses to smell, tongues to taste, ears to hear, hands to hold and raise. Christian worship is not the sort of thing that ethereal, disembodied spirits could engage in (p.139).
This down-to-earth practice of Christian worship has within it an implicit understanding of the material world and its connection with God:
Implicit in the materiality of Christian worship is this sense that God meets us in materiality, and that the natural world is always more than just nature—it is charged with the presence and glory of God. Thus the very performance of Christian worship cuts against both dualistic gnosticism, which would construe matter and bodies as inherently evil, and reductionistic naturalism, which would construe the world as "merely" natural (p.143).
It is this infusing of the material stuff of creation with the grace of God its Creator that Smith describes as "sacramental". In this sense, the whole world is "sacramental", but in Christian worship, "[t]he sacraments, we might say, are particular intensifications of a general sacramental presence of God in and with his creation" (p.141).
And it is because the whole world is sacramental that God takes up nitty-gritty things like bread and water and wine to function as sacraments, special means of grace (p.141).
I long for a recovery of this sense of the whole created order being "charged with the grandeur of God" (Hopkins), and particularly a sense of Christian worship being that part of the created order in which God most powerfully and tangibly reaches down to us, in word and sacrament.