EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: Worship And Christ by Evelyn Underhill

EVELYN UNDERHILL THROUGH LENT: Worship And Christ by Evelyn Underhill

From Worship

Since the Christian revelation is in its very nature historical – God coming the whole way to man, and discovered and adored within the arena of man’s life at one point in time, in and through the humanity of Christ – it follows that all the historical events and conditions of Christ’s life form part of the vehicle of revelation.  Each of them mediates God, disclosing some divine truth or aspect of divine love to us.  Here lies the importance of the Christian year, with its recurrent memorials of the birth, the manhood, the death, and the triumph of Jesus, as the framework of the church’s ordered devotion.  By and in this ancient sequence, with its three great moments of Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, its detailed demonstration in human terms of the mysteries of incarnation and redemption, the Christian soul is led out through succession to a contemplation of the eternal action of God.  In Christ, and therefore in all the states and acts of Christ, history and eternity meet.  Here, in One “who lived and died and is alive evermore” the worshiper adores the abiding God, self-revealed among men.  “His resplendent figure lights up the whole liturgy.”  Moreover, since in Christ the Christian sees God acting, each phase of his life is to be regarded as a theophany, and has a sacred significance.  It is the expression of an interior state directly produced by God, a necessary part of the redemption action of God, and so invites a particular acknowledgment in worship.

So, in that devout commemoration of the successive mysteries of the life of Jesus, from Christmas to Easter and to their consummation in Pentecost, on which the liturgical year of the church is based, all the phases of human experience are lit up by the radiance of eternity and brought into relation with the inexhaustible revelation of God in the flesh: giving the Christian a model he can never equal but a standard to which he must ever seek to conform.  The helplessness and humility of infancy, the long hidden period of discipline and growth, the lonely crisis and choice of the temptation, above all the heart-shaking events of Holy Week, Easter, and the Forty Days – all these become disclosures of the supernatural made through and in man, and therefore having a direct application of man’s need and experience.  Each shows the divine self-giving from a different angle; and so asks from man a humble gratitude and a generous response.

 

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