Religion is too rich and complex to be reduced to any one act or attitude or aspect of life. …But there is one act of life which does bring us in a special and peculiar way into the holy of holies of religion… This central act is worship. By worship I mean the act of rising to a personal, experimental consciousness of the real presence of God which floods the soul with joy and bathes the whole inward spirit with refreshing streams of life. Never to have felt that, never to have opened the life to these incoming divine tides, never to have experienced the joy of personal fellowship with God, is surely to have missed the richest privilege and the highest beatitude of religion. … Hush, waiting, meditation, concentration of spirit, are just the reverse of our busy, driving, modern temper.

The apt and lovely words about religion have place and meaning only if they create in us the passion and the positive intention to go ourselves on the spiritual pilgrimage, the goal of which is this holy of holies, where words about God fall away, since we have entered into the joy of his real presence.

Religion is primarily, and at heart, the personal meeting of the soul with God. … There can be living religion only so long as the soul of man is capable of experiencing the fresh bubbling of the living water within and can know for himself that a heart of eternal love beats in the central deeps of the universe within his reach.

The act of worship calls for intense devotion, for unusual concentration, for long-continued spiritual preparation. If it is, as I believe, the very goal and pinnacle of religion–the flowering of the tree of life–then we must not expect that it will cost nothing or that it will be reached along lines of least resistance. … but what we cannot get for dollars, however high we heap them, is this experience which is the heart of religion, this experience of God, this practice of the divine presence, this joy of being ourselves in the holy of holies.

 – excerpts from Rufus Jones, “The Central Act of Religion,”
The World Within, 1918.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
who, on finding one pearl of great value,
went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46
The Bible, Revised Standard Version


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