LENT: Worship And The Saints, by Evelyn Underhill

Worship And The Saints Evelyn Underhill

From Worship

Christian worship is never a solitary undertaking.  Both on its visible and invisible sides, it has a thoroughly social and organic character.  The worshiper, however lonely in appearance, comes before God as a member of a great family; part of the Communion of Saints, living and dead.  His own small effort of adoration is offered “in and for all.”  The first words of the Lord’s Prayer are always there to remind him of his corporate status and responsibility, in its double aspect.  On one hand, he shares the great life and action of the church, the Divine Society; however he may define this difficult term, or wherever he conceives its frontiers to be drawn.  He is immersed in that life, nourished by its traditions, taught, humbled, and upheld by its saints.  His personal life of worship, unable for long to maintain itself alone, has behind it two thousand years of spiritual culture, and around it the self-offerings of all devoted souls.  Further, his public worship, and commonly his secret devotion too, are steeped in history and tradition; and apart from them, cannot be understood.  There are few things more remarkable in Christian history than the continuity through many vicissitudes and under many disguises of the dominant strands in Christian worship.  On the other hand the whole value of this personal life of worship abides in the completeness with which it is purified from all taint of egotism, and the selflessness and simplicity with which it is added to the common store.  Here the individual must lose his life to find it; the longing for personal expression, personal experience, safety, joy, must more and more be swallowed up in charity.  For the goal alike of Christian sanctification and Christian worship is the ceaseless self-offering of the church, in and with Christ her head, to the increase of the glory of God.

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