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agreementWhen people intensely debate fine details of worship, of liturgy, of common prayer, I sense that those who disdain liturgy, and are looking on, are having their bemusement reinforced. Sadly, that would be a prejudice-based mistake.

Let’s use another example. For over two decades now, a try in Rugby Football has been worth 5 points. Imagine the debate two decades ago to change the scoring from the 4, that it had been for the 20 years previously, to 5. Imagine the debate when it changed from 3 to 4. It had been 3 points for 80 years.

If something is important to you, be it rugby or community worship, intense debate about details is not disagreement about what is held in deep agreement and with much affection, quite the opposite.

Those who appreciate and debate about liturgy (or rugby) are in agreement about 98.7% of the time. The debating is about the 1.3%.

There is strong agreement about the value of common worship. There is strong agreement that lay people in the congregation have rights, and not everything should just be at the whim of the priest. There is value in sharing a reading schedule in common so that people can plan ahead, pray in preparation, share resources between communities, denominations, and on the internet. There is value in planning a sequence, so that people who worship week by week are enriched steadily, and that those who are travelling are still able to continue their inner pilgrimage alongside their external one as they celebrate now with one community, now with another. There is value in reading great readings at the time that they have been read historically throughout history – deepening our experience not only of being part of the church throughout the world, but part of the church back through history to Jesus and through him into our Jewish heritage. There is value in celebrating the great feasts, again sharing these around the planet, and echoing back to Jesus, and on into the feasts celebrated back centuries before him.

And there is value in some local flexibility, so that a local experience or context may be acknowledged, celebrated, and prayed about.

I often blog in series. And this post can be seen as being the third in a series – the first being here, and the second here.

The connection between these three posts is the challenge to General Synod Te Hinota Whanui to review the confused and confusing rules that have grown up like topsy, to put a moratorium on producing new ones until that is done, to simplify the rules and language so that all is consistent, simple, and clear to follow for everyone – reflecting the sort of agreement expressed in this post.

What we need is quality formation, thorough training, rigorous study – and then legislation that embodies and encourages common sense.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas – in essentials unity, in inessentials freedom, in all things charity.

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15 thoughts on “Agreement”

  1. Kia ora Bosco. Your work through this blog is a valuable contribution to the life our our whole Church here in ANZP. From a Maori perspective ‘common worship’ is an expression of tikanga – the hapu and iwi (Church community) need to agree to change or adaptation to the way we express our life together and the rangatira are accountable to the people for any change. Nga mihi, Hirini.

  2. Bosco, love the rugby analogy. Liturgical debate is often deternmined by the play of the ball, the weather and the wind, the lines ‘people’, and the ref. Liturgy itself has the line-out, and can even include a collapsed scrum or to, and shepherding, the droppy, and the ‘conversion.’ The Reformation was once taught to me using th analogy of ‘football.’ In the end Liturgy is like rugby, win some, lose some, and often a parade of the walking wounded.

  3. Very good points Bosco. I suspect that at one time I may have fit into your classification of ‘those who disdain liturgy’, but I realized some time ago that I don’t actually disdain liturgy; rather, I love a simple liturgy. Good old-fashioned low-church Anglicanism, in other words!

    My observation with regard to the use of our 1985 Canadian ‘Book of Alternative Services’ is that on the one hand, many people do not take advantage of the flexibility that is built into the rubrics. Example: the rubrics allow you to replace ‘Glory to God in the Highest’ with another canticle, or with a hymn of praise, so in our parish this is where we sing the opening hymn. This variation is entirely within the scope of the rubrics.

    On the other hand, there are also many people who ride roughshod over the rubrics and just do whatever they like. Funnily enough, some of these folks are the same people who sometimes accuse me of being a ‘Congregationalist’!

  4. Too many people do not seem to understand the difference between “may” and “must’ – this misunderstanding (I could use another word but I choose not to!) does more to “muck up’ liturgy than almost anything else!!

  5. Robert W M Greaves

    Then again there are those of us who had no idea that the scoring system in Rugby Football had changed and indeed are still rather vague as to the difference between Rugby Football and Rugby Union.

  6. I had a solitary revival epiphany today dear Bosco, I was in your cyber-chapel a day or two ago, lighting a candle for Syria, and an inner voice said to me ‘just don’t give up’!

    Sometimes, it seems all so confusing, so painful, so silly, so repetitive, so anti-intellectual; then this old hymn song came to my mind this morning:

    I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
    I would be pure, for there are those who care;
    I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
    I would be brave, for there is much to dare;
    I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

    I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
    I would be giving, and forget the gift;
    I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
    I would look up, and laugh, and love and lift.
    I would look up, and laugh, and love and lift.

    I would be faithful through each passing moment;
    I would be constantly in touch with God;
    I would be strong to follow where He leads me;
    I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod;
    I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.

    Who is so low that I am not his brother?
    Who is so high that I’ve no path to him?
    Who is so poor, that I may not feel his hunger?
    Who is so rich I may not pity him?
    Who is so rich I may not pity him?

    Who is so hurt I may not know his heartache?
    Who sings for joy my heart may never share?
    Who in God’s heaven has passed beyond my vision?
    Who to Hell’s depths where I may never fare?
    Who to Hell’s depths where I may never fare?

    May none, then, call on me for understanding,
    May none, then, turn to me for help in pain,
    And drain alone his bitter cup of sorrow,
    Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.
    Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.


    What better liturgy for any Christian, or indeed-any soul on earth seeking peace and to live a good life?

    is the setting most often sung to these words,
    though I have written a more modern and less repetitive tune and setting myself which I hope is not an arrogant undertaking.

    As it seems the world will be going to war again any day soon, it just struck me as age-old comfort, reassurance, hope.

    The road to Damascus…hear or understand?

    ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’

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