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Continuing 2017 in The Anglican Church of Or

Jesus facepalm

If you are not interested in NZ, or liturgical worship life here, go out and lie on a beach.1 Otherwise – do read on, if you like.

Oh – and before I get to today’s post, click on this link for the reflection on Sunday’s collect for The Baptism of the Lord.

Here’s the conclusion of the post: Liturgy, rather than being seen as the joy of agreed common prayer, and the potential of shared human symbols to aid our relationship with the God who is beyond our tick-the-boxes mental categories, liturgy, instead, is often seen as an esoteric, gnat-straining, rule-obsessed, irrelevance. In our small and shrinking Church, rather than having simple, clear agreements, well presented, we are constantly presented with mind-numbing options (there must be more variants possible than number of people attending our Church!) and even when our own agreements are clear, we, who vow and sign up voluntarily to adhere to them, don’t adhere to them.

In the Anglican Church of Or (formally known as “The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) I have long been calling for a simple document that makes clear
1) what is required liturgically in our church
2) what is allowed, and
3) what is forbidden
This call has even had unanimous support at diocesan level. But other issues (like who can love whom and how) are ahead of this in the queue.

Even when our agreements are crystal clear, people who vow and sign to adhere to them (and, remember, we voluntarily vow and sign up to these agreements!), at every ‘level’ of our Church life, break those agreements.

That is true of

This post builds on Beginning 2017 in The Anglican Church of Or and reinforces the point also underscored by the Ven. Dr Peter Carrell in his comment on that post, that, even when our agreements are clear and simple, we have a culture that does not adhere to these agreements – at every ‘level’ of our Church life, including, as I am further stressing in this post (applicable to this time of year) our Church’s own Lectionary booklet.

The formulary (the technical term for what we have agreed together to be binding on us in doctrine and practice), Notes on the Calendar – Te Maramataka, and Precedence in Liturgical Observance is crystal clear:

The Baptism of Christ is only transferred when 6 January is a Sunday.

This year, 2017, 6 January is NOT a Sunday, so The Baptism of Christ cannot be transferred. And yet Pages 25 and 26 of our Church’s Lectionary booklet for 2017 transfer The Baptism of Christ (from our agreed celebration on 8 January to 9 January), and those two pages are the consequences of that transference. The Church’s Lectionary booklet is hence, once again, in breach of our own formularies, the teaching and practice that we have vowed and signed to adhere to.

The point of this post is that we are being subjected to liturgical chaosification. Liturgy is being made to be a foolish, incomprehensible, irrelevant interest of a tiny (and rapidly-decreasing) number of eccentrics. Often, our agreements for common prayer are unclear, and, even when they are crystal clear, they are ignored – all the way to the highest level. [And by “highest level”, I mean beyond Lectionary booklets and bishops to being ignored by our General Synod itself – for further, see footnote 2 below].

A final point or postscript:

The agreed formulary of our Church is clear:

In any year when there is a Second Sunday of Christmas, the Epiphany (6 January) may, for pastoral reasons, be celebrated on that Sunday.

This year, there was a Second Sunday of Christmas on January 1. I have already demonstrated that our Lectionary booklet illegally provided options transferring the Principal Feast The Naming of Jesus to January 2 (contrary to our agreed formulary). What is beyond comprehension is, while providing every possible option which is not allowed, the Lectionary booklet does NOT provide the option of celebrating Epiphany on January 1 this year – an option clearly provided for in our Church’s formularies “for pastoral reasons”.

*****

Whether you regard the Christmas Season as concluding on Christmas Day, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, Candlemas, the Sunday following Candlemas, or are Orthodox, or Armenian, and celebrate the Incarnation on another day and see the season differently… in the Southern Hemisphere, and certainly in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this is our go-slow time…

If you appreciated this post, do remember to like the liturgy facebook page, use the RSS feed, and sign up for a not-very-often email, …

(1) “lie on the beach” is my getting back at Northern-Hemisphere prejudice that January is winter. I recently met a USA family travelling around NZ. Having been here for a couple of weeks, in the conversation I had with them it became clear they hadn’t realised it was summer here – they clearly thought we had extremely warm winters!
(Return to start of the post)

(2) and, to add to the confusion, there is the odd situation where we have a canon which explicitly defies our doctrine A canon, I remind you, is a simple majority decision by General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW). Changing doctrine (formulary), on the other hand, is a highly complex process involving a majority of diocesan synods and hui amorangi, two meetings of GSTHW, a two-thirds majority in all Houses, and a year for any further disagreement.
(Return to marriage bullet point)

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11 Responses to Continuing 2017 in The Anglican Church of Or

  1. Yes, well, I wouldn’t call Sunday 1 January the Second Sunday of Christmas …

    Also, I observe, that one resolution of the lectionary editor(s) refusal to follow our formularies is to change our formularies. Formularies are not sacrosanct in themselves: what is sacrosanct is what we agree to do together. If we are agreeing to do something other than what we have previously agreed to, then our agreements need to catch up. (All framed, of course, by your recipes for simplicity and clarity!)

    • Thanks, Peter.

      Our Church has formally agreed, in a formulary, to “call Sunday 1 January the Second Sunday of Christmas”.

      Sure, our Church could debate to change our formularies to the increased complexity of our 2017 Lectionary booklet. But note, the Lectionary booklet is far less simple and has far more options than our current formularies allow. Until such change, I think our Lectionary booklets should conform to our agreements. If someone want to publish a booklet of resources that conflicts with our formularies, they have every right to do so – but don’t give it the appearance of a formal publication of our Church.

      Is there really a need, in our small Church, for the variety that the Lectionary booklet 2017 provides? Or is this yet another example of not accepting how small we actually are, and giving ourselves and others the impression that we are a massive body?

      Christmas blessings.

  2. <- remains confused. Will return to beach.

    Mind you, I don't blame the tourists for being confused about our seasons. The seasons themselves appear confused. Snow in Otago in the middle of summer???

  3. To be clear, I am not advocating “law breaking” ahead of actual change to the laws.

    Obviously I was asleep when we passed 1 Jan = 2 Xmas 🙂

    I quite agree: we have more options than we need and more complexity than is useful = not best way to “edify” the church.

    In particular, we do not seem to understand what “common prayer (and reading Scripture” might mean in practice. Options diminish our opportunity to pray together.

    • We only passed 1 Jan = 2 Xmas when 25 December = a Sunday, Peter. I said we would get confused. Surprise! I was correct. Blessings.

  4. My suspicion, Bosco, is that very, very few of your parishioners care about these issues as much as do you. I’m not saying that these matters are not important or that they are not aggravating, but I suspect that the people to whom you tend are not looking for coherence and consistency, but the things that you already provide them everyday–love, understanding, and guidance in truly vital things.

    Don’t get me wrong. I find liturgy fascinating, but I am also a bit tired of those in my church who argue, for instance, that the Eucharist is the very center of the Church, to the very exclusion of other ways of worshiping the Master of the Universe. It’s very common in my parish for everyone to say, “Oh, well, we’ll have a Mass. That should cover it.” Well, sometimes a Mass just isn’t good enough for the circumstance and I’m brave enough–or heretic enough–to say so. So, you can see, I’m not one to worry too much about 2nd Sundays and all of that. After all, once we admit our liturgical calendar is rather arbitrary to begin with, shouldn’t we proceed with flexibility?

    I guess I’m saying that rubrics are fine and good, but that we must not allow them to be the focus of our hearts.

    Bosco, please don’t feel a need to post these comments. I’ll understand if you choose not to do so.

    • Everything you say here, Kevin, makes perfect sense to me. No one I know of is advocating that rubrics “be the focus of our hearts”. As has been mentioned in at least one other comment, there is value in reading the scriptures together. There is also value in keeping promises. If we aren’t going to keep them – don’t make them. If we put HUGE energy into coming to agreements (and we do) that is all duplicitous if we all know the energy expended is merely deceitful. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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