Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.
I ducked into Grace Cathedral Sunday morning for an hour of quiet in the midst of a busy weekend. It was cool and dark and smelled like incense, and the excellent Dean Alan Jones was at the helm once again. He looks like a combination of Santa Claus and what I imagine the Beard Papa cream puff dude would look like if he were, well, real.
It was a nice respite of song and chant and ritual and meditation. And I felt refreshed on walking out. But what impressed me most was a particular piece of the communion liturgy. Grace is of course one of the more progressive congregations out there; it has to be, situated as it is in the heart of San Francisco. But the Episcopalians have done something warm and graceful and inclusive with their communion liturgy, effectively transforming what can often be an exclusivist ritual (ahem, Catholicism) into an ecumenical and interfaith-minded affirmation.
My grad work involved a lot of looking at religion and food and bodies and breaking and the liturgies and theologies involved in developing a more inclusive and progressive sense of all of that. And there's some great stuff being done on the fringes, but most of it hasn't yet hit the mainstream. This liturgy, performed as it is in such a prominent congregation, gives me hope.
Here's a taste of the communion chant. It's sung alternatively by the choir and the congregation:
We break this bread for those who journey the way of the Hindus, for those who follow the path of the Buddha, for our sisters and brothers of Islam, for the Jewish People from whom we come, and for all those who walk the way of faith.(Blessed be God forever.)We break this bread for the earth we have wasted, for those who have no bread, and for ourselves in our brokenness.(Blessed be God forever.)Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.
Ok, yeah, if you're not scared yet, then great. But there are a lot of subtleties involved here that hint at social justice and eco-awareness and praxis and ecumenism. This. Is. Great.
Another reason I feel lucky to live a few blocks away from one of the larger, more establishment, progressive congregations out there. None of this Focus on the Family shit for us, thankyouverymuch.
(And that's Warhol's Last Supper above, 1986)