Eucharistic Prayers for Inclusive Communities, pt. 1
Tripp Fuller is something of a personal hero to me. His contribution to emergent dialogue is, first of all, pervasive. The guy is everywhere. And his ideas are generally nothing short of awesome. Homebrewed Christianity is the theological podcast to listen to. This Theology After Google thing sounds incredible. And his involvement in Philip Clayton’s Transforming Theology project is inspiring. So, when Tripp sent out an email to all of us who are involved with the grassroots blogging part of the TT project asking us to look at a couple of volumes of Eucharistic prayers, I jumped on it. I’ve been given assignments for this project before—assignments that I flaked out on. This time, it was important to me to really follow through.
I readied myself: I cleared off my desk to limit distractions, and I opened the .pdf of Eucharistic Prayers for Inclusive Communities, Vol. 1, fully prepped to get my blog on. As I read the introductions by editors Sheila Durkin Dierks and Bridget Mary Meehan, I was moved. Dierks and Meehan spoke of the imagination of God and the power of the Eucharist in ways that made my heart sing. My interest was piqued, and I was increasingly excited about what was to come. Now, I’m not sure what I really thought was coming as I settled into devour this book of prayers, but as I flipped to the first liturgy in the collection, I realized that this would be a much more spiritual project than an intellectual one.
It opened with a poem by Emily Dickinson, a pleasant surprise. This poem raised the question: What is hope? And what do we have to hope for? The gospel reading was from Matthew, the retelling of the resurrection. It is the risen Christ, re-incarnated in the Eucharist that offers hope. And the community with which we share the Table is a source of life.
The very fact that we gather here tonight is a sign of hope, hope that our gathering has the meaning of friendship and caring, hope that we will grow and learn and care more deeply because we are together.
But being here is also a sign that there is One who cares deeply for us, One who hopes for our safety and happiness in the middle of this crazy world. We believe and hope that Creator Spirit holds us in Her loving gaze, in Her gentle care (p. 3).
Simultaneously, my favorite thing about this volume is almost my biggest reservation. The editors use feminine language to describe God, something that I find absolutely refreshing in theological conversation. The tendency to anthropomorphize God into a macho Anglo-American male is offensive and an oversimplification of God. In this regard, using feminine descriptions can help us to open up our conceptions of God (which are all insufficient and perhaps even idolatrous, anyway). However, using only feminine language does not solve the problem, it simply relocates it in a different kind of rhetoric. I can only hope that the book goes on use both metaphors to describe the indescribable and undeconstructable. In their defense, the editors do invite readers in the introduction to change these liturgies, especially the ways in which God is addressed. For the editors, this offers an important opportunity for creative theology.
Despite my singular snag so far, the rest of this volume looks to be, like its opening liturgy, a beautiful blend of poetry and prayer, Scripture and reflection, and welcoming spirituality.