Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Eucharistic Materials in Enriching Our Worship 1: A Consideration of Its Trinitarian Theology

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Eucharistic Materials in Enriching Our Worship 1: A Consideration of Its Trinitarian Theology

Article excerpt

Introduction: Setting the Stage

The Episcopal Church's official engagement with expansive/inclusive liturgical language for God began in 1985, when the General Convention "authorized the development of supplemental inclusivelanguage texts" through a series of materials produced by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM).1 These resources provided (among other resources) alternative forms of Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The first volume, Liturgical Texts for Evaluation (1987),2 significantly reduced gender-specific language in favor of terms like "God" or "humanity." A second set of texts, Supplemental Liturgical Texts (1989),3 takes a somewhat different and more balanced approach to gendered language and uses "both masculine and feminine words, images, and metaphors."4 Both of these collections were authorized as complete rites to be used in places of the corresponding liturgy in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer when authorized by the bishop. The next phase, which includes both Supplemental Liturgical Materials (1991) and Enriching Our Worship 1 (1998), sought to balance traditional language with terms and images underutilized in scripture and tradition.5 Thus, the term "expansive" is the preferred adjective to describe this language, rather than inclusive or diverse.6 These texts, in contrast, were more explicitly supplemental in nature, meaning that one could draw as much or as little as desired.

Exactly how congregations are supposed to use EOW1 is not totally clear. The directions for use state that the materials can be used in two ways: as a resource "in conjunction with the Rite Two liturgies of the 1979 BCP," or "to develop an entire liturgy using the supplemental texts. The entire eucharistie liturgy can be designed with only the collect of the day from the BCP being added" (EOW1, 14). In contrast, the introduction written by Phoebe Pettingell for the SCLM says that, like its predecessor Supplemental Liturgical Materials (1991 and 1996), EOW1 "avoids supplying complete rites, providing instead a collection of texts" (EOW1, 9). These statements seem to be directly contradictory and neither statement was included in what was approved by General Convention in 1997 or by every subsequent Convention.7 These two different approaches to the use of EOW1 makes it difficult to know exactly how to approach a theological reading of its content. Reluctantly, my approach here is to analyze EOW1 as a whole eucharistie rite, all the while acknowledging that this may not have been the intention of General Convention and that EOW1 is often used in a more ad hoc fashion. Nonetheless, the particular aspects of the Rite II liturgy for the Holy Eucharist in the 1979 BCP that are absent from EOW1 are the very aspects that some wish to minimize in future revisions. Which is to say that EOW1 looks a lot like the revised eucharistie rite some would like to see in a new Prayer Book. Thus, I offer this thought experiment as an exercise that analyzes EOW1 as an entire rite in order to gàin the clearest picture of its theology as a whole.

The SCLM was clear that it sought to balance a number of concerns and priorities in the creation of EOW1. The first is the concern raised by masculine language for God in the prayer experiences of women {EOW1,5), and Meyers explains elsewhere that "the development of inclusive-language or expansive-language liturgies has been a response to feminist concerns about masculine God-language."8 Their solution has consciously avoided the modalistic "Creator/Redeemer/Sanctifier"9 and instead excavated language and metaphors from the patristic writers, the medieval mystics, and underutilized images from the scriptures (EOW1, 8). The concern with the language of historic Anglican liturgies in many of the preparatory essays is that their (over)emphasis on certain attributes or aspects of God-such as "God as law-giving sovereign" or God's "fatherliness"-runs the risk of becoming a "idolatry" in which our view of God "is skewed and obscured. …

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