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improper lectionary celebrations

This year’s New Zealand Anglican Lectionary has added a new, extra title to today’s three titles in English. There are now four different English-language titles for today in the Anglican Church of Or! The fourth is “Proper 1”. This new title was launched, as usual in our province’s liturgical landscape, without explanation or introduction. We have had “Proper” Sundays previously, true. Last year, the first “Proper” Sunday was June 1, “Proper 4”, also known in the Anglican Church of Or as the 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time, or the 3rd Sunday after Penecost, though why the previous Sunday (May 25) did not have “Proper 3” alongside the alternatives of Te Pouhere Sunday, Second Sunday after Pentecost, or 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time – is… ummm… unclear! Proper Sundays first appeared in our Lectionary in 2001 – you won’t be surprised: without explanation or introduction. Until now I had assumed, silly me, that the origin was BCP (TEC – USA). Page 158 has:

The Proper to be used on each of the Sundays after Pentecost (except for Trinity Sunday) is determined by the calendar date of that Sunday. Thus, in any year, the Proper for the Sunday after Trinity Sunday (the Second Sunday after Pentecost) is the numbered Proper (number 3 through number 8), the calendar date of which falls on that Sunday, or is closest to it, whether before or after. Thereafter, the Propers are used consecutively. For example, if the Sunday after Trinity Sunday is May 26, the sequence begins with Proper 3 (Propers 1 and 2 being used on the weekdays of Pentecost and Trinity weeks). If the Sunday after Trinity Sunday is June 13, the sequence begins with Proper 6 (Propers 1 through 3 being omitted that year, and Propers 4 and 5 being used in Pentecost and Trinity weeks).

Perfectly clear to me! All weeks after the Day of Pentecost have a “Proper” number. The maximum possible number of weeks after the Day of Pentecost in the Church Year is 29. Hence the Church Year always ends with Proper 29, the week of the Sunday closest to November 23. Proper 1 is for an early Day of Pentecost, assigned to the week of the Sunday closest to May 11, Proper 2 for closest to May 18, and so on.

Now New Zealand is creating something new! It is calling today, January 11 “Proper 1”. In fact it will have us celebrate Proper 6 twice this year, once February 15, and again with the rest of the planet June 14 (well, of course NZ will offer at least another three English-language options for that Sunday if you don’t like “Proper 6” a second time – February 15, however, has only three different English-language options). Proper 7 is February 22 and/or June 21.

Postscript: before I get inundated with responses pointing out that Canadian Anglicans have Propers counting from The Baptism of the Lord = Proper 1, I’m well aware they use “Proper” numbers as others use “Ordinary Sunday” numbers. June 14, in that system, however, is, consistently “Proper 11” – not, following New Zealand, “Proper 6”.

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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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