I am indebted to Kendal Harmon at Titusonenine for pointing me to this story, which he links to from his site with the advice: 'Check it out'. The Women's Ministry page of Ecusa, the Church of England's Anglican brothers and sisters of the US, has on it a new eucharistic liturgy. As commentators have pointed out, the flames in the bottom left hand corner of the page might seem appropriate to some. As might the start of the confession: 'Most merciful Lady, we confess that we have separated ourselves from you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.' Devotion to God the Mother in Anglican churches is not new, but this is the first time writing about religion that I can recall a liturgy where Jesus is actually feminised into a mother as well.
Funnily, though, the liturgy uses the traditional, male version of the Lord's Prayer.
It opens: 'Blessed be the Lady who births, redeems and sanctifies us.'
For a few moments, my head full of Da Vinci Code still, I wasn't sure who we were talking about here, the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene. For a bizarre instant, it occurred to me that Ecusa had suddenly gone more Catholic than the Catholics and had actually deified the BVM. But then I realised who 'the Lady' was. None other than God ***self.
The liturgy continues: 'Loving Lady, have mercy, Mother Jesus, have mercy.' Later, Jesus does become her Son however.
The concluding collect begins: 'Holy Mother God' and there are other references to the Divine Mother and the Holy Mother.
I am all in favour of recognising elevating the feminine within Christianity and believe one reason for the success of the Da Vinci Code is that it taps into this desire that is shared by many, especially women. I am not sure, however, that even Dan Brown would go so far as to advocate prayers to 'Mother Jesus', even if he does believe that Jesus might have had children.
And while on the question of Anglicans and women, it is worth mentioning the agreement reached between Affirming Catholicism and Watch, the campaigners for women's ordination, over how the Church might proceed to the ordination of women bishops. See more on this at Thinking Anglicans.