What, then, are we to say about our own place within this design? We begin by recalling the frequent declaration of the Psalmists that creation, in a myriad of ways, is endlessly praising its Creator. In all its colour, movement, subtlety, richness, diversity and splendour, it brings glory to God: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.’ (Ps. 19:1) Our calling, I would suggest, is to articulate and extend that praise in ever fresh ways, to be ‘priests of creation’. In humankind, creation finds a voice; to use George Herbert’s word, each of us is invited to be a ‘secretary’ of praise. Through the human creature, the inarticulate (though never silent) creation becomes articulate. As Douglas John Hall puts it, “In this creature the speaking God, Deus loquens, locates a counterpart within the saeculum, a speaking animal. Here the creation gathers itself and addresses the One whose glorious Word brought it into being, word answering Word.”
—Jeremy Begbie, Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts, 177
The worth and excellency of a soul is determined by the object of his love.
—Henry Scougal (1650-78)
The first, the basic definition of man is that he is the priest. He stands in the center of the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from God and offering it to God—and by filling the world with this eucharist, he transforms his life, the one that he receives from the world, into life in God, into communion with Him. The world was created as the “matter,” the material of one all-embracing eucharist, and man was created as the priest of this cosmic sacrament.
—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 15
Thankful self-offering to the true God in response to His mercies is reasonable, right-minded worship [Romans 12:1], in contrast to the topsy-turvy mentality that withholds thanksgiving and trades truth for a lie (1:21,25).
—Michael B. Thompson, “Romans 12.1–2 and Paul’s Vision for Worship” in A Vision for the Church, 125
The beginning of the second ‘half’ of Romans [12:1] amounts to a call to participate in the reversal of the downward spiral described at the beginning of the first ‘half.’
—Michael B. Thompson, “Romans 12.1–2 and Paul’s vision for Worship” in A Vision for the Church, 124
Worship terminology is reintroduced at this key point in Paul’s argument [Romans 12:1] to demonstrate how the problems created by humanity’s failure to worship and serve God appropriately (Romans 1–2) have been dealt with by God himself.
—David Peterson, “Worship and Ethics in Romans 12,” Tyndale Bulletin 44.2 (1993):278
Foundational to the apostle’s thinking about worship is his teaching about humanity’s refusal to glorify and serve God acceptably (1:18–2:29). Here Paul reflects the OT perspective that the knowledge of God should lead to appropriate worship (1:25). Associated with the failure to acknowledge and glorify God is a futility of thinking and a darkening of ‘their foolish hearts’ [1:21]. Humanity is fundamentally impaired at the level of understanding and judgement because of the rejection of the true knowledge of God. It is significant, therefore, that Paul later links the renewing of the mind with the notion of right worship being restored through the work of Christ (12:1-2; cf. 1:28; 2:18).
—David Peterson, “Worship and Ethics in Romans 12,” Tyndale Bulletin 44.2 (1993):276