This is the first in a series of posts reflecting on General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2012 (GSTHW) of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. It is written from the perspective of one not present at that meeting.
This post is about the attempted revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (NZPB/HKMA).
I am absolutely delighted that the ill-advised revision of the Prayer Book is not going ahead. For those who haven’t followed (and the church has certainly been very quiet about it) in essence this revision would have removed the variety and choices available in pages 549-723 and would have assigned a single prayer to each Sunday and Holy Day. Many many of these prayers, that would have been so designated, are not collects – in the normal understanding of that word. So the proposed revision would have been a step backwards not forwards.
The proposed Prayer Book revision appeared to have been attempted surreptitiously (hence you’re not alone if you didn’t read about it from the church’s official communication sources). I first blogged about collect vandalism three years ago, not realising there was an intention to revise the Prayer Book in this direction. Next, I accidentally picked up (I cannot even remember where – certainly not in a formal church announcement) that the printers of the Prayer Book were not continuing to print the legal NZPB/HKMA but that the next printing would be a revision! That illegal printing did not go ahead.
Two things were at stake. In our Constitution our church has an agreed process for revising our Prayer Book. Our Prayer Book is central to defining who we are. Bypassing this process is a significant breach of our Constitution. Secondly, the proposed printing was going to abandon what I am going to refer to as the Trinitarian dynamic which the collect is so significant for.
In my understanding, in the Eucharist there is a dynamic: a drawing in, a deepening, and a sending out. When we gather for Eucharist we have generally been out with Christ in God’s world as individuals. Now we are gathered together to be with Christ and in Christ as a community. In Christ we are drawn into God, in God’s Spirit, and nourished by Christ to be more Christlike. And then sent out by God in the power of the Spirit to be Christ and work with Christ in the world.
The collect sits at that threshold of this dynamic. It draws us deeper into Christ and into the community (Christ’s body) so that in Christ we are drawn in the power of the Spirit deeper into God.
The collect, hence, is the central prayer in the Gathering of the Community. Motion 17 at GSTHW decided “that in any revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa each Sunday and Holy Day be provided, in the text, with at least one collect which follows the taonga/treasure of Trinitarian collects (that is, addressed to God, the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the Spirit); and that, as far as possible, such a collect be provided in Te Reo Maori as well as English.”
Bill 5, a legal start to revising the Prayer Book, followed later in the GSTHW programme. As this Bill would have gone against the motion just passed, I could not make sense how some were even contemplating debating this Bill. In the event Bill 5 was withdrawn.
There are parts of our wonderful Prayer Book that could do with improvement – but if we do revise NZPB/HKMA let’s make it better – not worse. Thanks to all who were part of this wise decision.