There’s a resolution out there to change the language of Eucharistic Prayer C (C077).
It doesn’t try and smooh out or update the rather dated language of the beginning, rather it shoots for gender equity:
Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
Lord God of our ancestors; God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, [God of _________], God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.
Now, I have some questions here. They came to me on Sunday when our rector used these very variations.
I understand the desire here—to remind people that the people of God haven’t just been men. Ok, so far so good. However, we now open a serious can of worms.
- Abraham and Sarah. Yes. I can see not putting in Abraham’s second wife, Keturah (Gen 25:1) even though she bore him 6 children. But what about Hagar (Gen 16 and 21), who was oppressed by Sarah yet rescued by God? Theologically, what does it mean that we choose to leave out (oppress/exclude/etc.) Hagar? Of course, the argument could be made that we are mentioning people from whom the Children of Israel spring. Well, ok…
- As for Jacob and Rachel and Leah—how about Bilhah (Gen 30:3-8) from whom come Dan and Naphtali or Zilpah (Gen 30:9-13) who bore Gad and Asher? You can’t use the lineage dodge with these that could get you off the hook for Hagar.
- So, what we see is that in the name of fairness and inclusion, we are honoring the wives and ignoring the concubines through whom God’s plans were also being realized… There seems to be an unpleasant message here about power dynamics and choosing women who are authorized by the patriarchy which seems especially odd given the attention that intimate relationships are receiving these days in the church. Is this really what we want our liturgy to say?
When we make changes to the liturgy without thinking through their implications we open ourselves up to more problems than we solve.