Gender Neurality in Liturgy

     In last week’s reflection, I discussed why I believed that it is best that our liturgy continue to be gender inclusive and not gender neutral when it comes to references to the almighty divine creator God. If you recall, I told a bit of my story as it related to the “abba Father” phrase, one that spoke to me early in my return to the journey home as a prodigal son. This is a very personal experience for me and one that I hold dear to my heart. It is one that the Holy Spirit used to draw me closer the heart of God. I failed to discuss last week one perspective that I think is equally important, and one that I am taking more seriously now.
     I have been pondering in my mind and heart what it would be like if the tables reversed historically on how the bible relates in literature and culture.  What if the Bible came to a Matriarchal society and what if God chose a woman to come and die for our sins? I realize that this is a sensitive issue, so just hear me out. What if women were the Matriarchs; and the heads of the culture of Israel all along? The Christ may have been a woman and she may have prayed the “Our Mother” in heaven. Now, I only propose this question to get us men thinking. What does it feel like to be the minority who hears all the prayers and all the readings refer to God as the “other” sex? What is it like? It is very impersonal, isn’t it? This is the whole point of our Christian expression, that of describing our God in a personal way, and expressing our human relationship and worship of God TO God and about God. I cannot blame women for feeling left out of the mix here. This is why I believe in stressing free expression of Christian worship in liturgy and all-inclusive language in such, and not gender neutrality. To be neutral is remove expression from both sexes, and take away from that image that God placed in us, the Divine male and female. To use a bad quote here, let us be all that we can be!  “God created them male and female…, in the day God created them…” in God’s Image. I do not believe that God is gender neutral, yet I do think that Yahweh is gender transcendent. The greater in compasses the lesser. We are in the greater, and our nature is an extension of that of God.
    Now here is yet another point on the prophetic side. I like the lyrics from a Michael Card tape I have been listening to lately called “Scandle On.” It is a musical take on the three fold ministry of the life of Jesus here on earth. The lyric goes like this: “the way of satan is to buy and sell, and way of God is to Give and die; the lamb is a lion with a cry in his voice, for the empy religion that fills the day…”. I would venture to warn that what ever we do to liturgy or to our translation of scripture, we must be very careful not to empty them of the very richness and texture that God has placed there. We must be careful not to sell out. We must be cautious to preserve the fullness of the Spirit and not practice and empty tradition. I beleive very much in the Apostolic succession, and that with it comes not only tradition and authority, but theology as well. After all, it was Christ who first taught the Apostles, the Apostles the first century chruch fathers, and so on. There is a reason that God has revealed Himself in the way he has, and it is not nessessarily for me, a minor little brother to question. It is true that we humans cannot adequately describe the Alimighty Divine One, but we do need to remember that God desires that we seek a personal covenant with him, since he has offered such to us. This is a relational religion, and Jesus taught us so. I have surmised that the language that Christ Jesus used is good enough for me, since not only did he use it himself, but he did so as God in the flesh, the Almighty creator incarnate. He established the new covenant in a very personal way by coming here himself. This shows me that He excluded no possibilties.
                “For all of you are God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. Indeed, all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    A person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female, because all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then
    you are Abraham’s descendants and heirs according to the promise.” Galations5 3:26-29 ISV
     Once again, I urge each of you to find all the descriptions, proper nouns, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives you can to describe our Creator and USE them. Worship God in your way, and God will show up the way you need the most. Our Holy Father is a good Father, a loving father, one who wants to heal and give good things to His children. [Matthew 7:7-11]


About Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

Disciple of Jesus Christ with a Progressive Message, Author, Franciscan Friar, Musician, Social Activist, and Urban Missionary View all posts by Friar Timothy, Franciscan Urban Mission, INC.

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