Thursday, February 23, 2012

Worship must not be just down to earth . . .

The Liturgy in a Serbian Monastery

Worship must not be just down to earth, otherwise it will be exclusive, worship for those bits of the earth which like that sort of thing. 

Worship which raises our prayers and praises and unites them with the prayer of Christ and all his saints in heaven will necessarily be representative . . . 

If we are before God in Christ we are in his Body together with all his holy people - visible and invisible, known and unknown. Then we are truly where we belong as a Church and we are truly both serving the world and serving God. The risen Christ is with his saints - and his saints are with him, for they are also the Body of Christ and in Christ we are one with them. All our worship must bring us into the kingdom and raise us into the fellowship of the saints, together with "angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven." Only such heavenly worship is any earthly use at all. 

So, whether it is at the bedside of an old lady who is dying; or at the glorious worship of a huge congregation in a vast basilica; whether it is with two or three huddled together in prison on the eve of their execution - singing hymns at midnight like Paul and Silas - or locked up in the basilica like Ambrose with his congregation at Milan; whether in a hospital ward, or in a trench before battle; there is no corner of the earth and no gathering too insignificant which cannot be raised beyond itself in Christ into the presence of the Father with all the saints, "enkingdomed", transfigured and glorified. So we all can become even now (for those with eyes to see) what we were intended to be from all eternity and will be in Christ throughout all ages and world without end. 

As Evelyn Underhill says in "The Mystery of Sacrifice": "In our religion, and in the worship which is the expression of our religion, we look out towards eternity; and bit by bit, in various ways and degrees, we discover in ourselves a certain capacity for eternity." 

 - Bishop Michael Marshall, in "Renewal and Worship" (1982)


Post a Comment