This year, the SA Dialogue of the Roman Catholic and Uniting Churches has been focussing on our Jewish-Christian relationship. Members have become aware of our responsibility, as Christians, not to denigrate or cause hurt to our Jewish brothers and sisters by the way we express our faith, in some hymns, --for example “O come, o come Emmanuel”. As we sing hymns this Advent, the Dialogue encourages you to reword them where it could give unintended pain or offence to our Jewish friends. New word by Dr Mary Marshall of Perth are worth considering as a substitute:
O come, O come Emanuel,
and with your people always dwell,
who mourn in lonely exile here,
until the Lord of life appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emanuel shall come
and with us ever dwell.
O come, O Lamb of God who was slain
and underwent our human pain.
Dispel our fear of endless night and
Death’s dark shadow put to flight.
O come, O bread of heaven sublime
who come to us in bread and wine.
Still Sacraments will one day cease
in God’s eternal reign of peace.
Some years ago, Rev Lee Levett-Olson coined the term, “care-ful language” language full of care for all. May this concept enrich us all, as we strive to use words that bring us closer together across faiths.