February 21, 2012

Since 1979

Posted in Lent, Redeemer, Sanctification, Suffering Servant at 10:46 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Unwashed, unshriven, and unbent,
We eat and drink, and then are sent
Out into the world to go in peace.
Unsatisfied, we leave the feast
With no true sense of our own sin
Or of the Christ who died for men.
Teach us, O Christ, that Thou art Lord.
Be to us Body, Blood, and Word.
Then send us out prepared for war,
With sin and self to daily spar.
That dying, we may live anew
To rise, then fall, in worship true.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

I was talking with a friend last night about the subtle and the glaring differences between the REC BCP and the 1979 BCP of the Episcopal Church. Needless to say, I prefer the REC book. There is no point in belaboring the problems with the 1979 book; others have done an extensive job of that and much better than I could. I will only say that I could never trust a book that purports to give me the traditional collects, while having “cleansed” them of any trace of gender-specific language.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the word “men” was chosen on purpose and is placed almost exactly in the middle of the poem. It is my small way of thumbing my nose at the “gender-inclusive” language that pervades both the 1979 BCP and the 1982 Hymnal. One egregious example is found in my favorite Christmas hymn is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

The original version makes the bold assertion that our Lord Jesus Christ was “born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” That is an important truth, and it echoes Biblical language. The estate of being mankind has nothing to do with gender inclusiveness or lack thereof, and the very clear statement that MAN, the creature who was made in the image of God and then fell, is now reconciled with God is, in sophisticated theological terms, a really big deal. The change that was made in this beautiful hymn from specific words to the plural pronouns “we” and “us” has taken the very heart of the Gospel and watered it down with lukewarm water that is worth nothing else but to be spat out.

If it is offensive to sing the following, then let me be found offending every day of my life:

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For MAN the creature’s sin.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

May your Lent be filled with the joy of Christ as you are emptied of sin and self.

Written on January 5, 2008, during the breaks in Liturgics class.  I re-wrote two lines tonight to strengthen the concept of spiritual warfare.

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