I have just purchased the Lectionary for the 2010 Church Year of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa (comma) New Zealand (no “Oxford/Harvard comma“) and Polynesia, better known as “The Anglican Church of Or”. (With a carefully thought-through official title one would think similar great care would be taken in the common prayer that holds it together as an Anglican province, but…)
This Lectionary states, “The colours suggested for each day… are not mandatory but reflect common practice in most parishes.” (page 4). So let’s take the example in the image above for Sunday November 14. The colour for the day is Green, or… ummm… Red, or…. White, or… ummm… Violet. The day before can be Green or Red. And the day before that can be Green or white or Red. Unless of course you wanted to use Violet on that day – remember colours are not mandatory. (You are starting to see why it is called the Anglican Church of Or). Page 104 expands the options (in case you don’t think there are enough) so that on our example of November 14 you might also use “Best” or Gold or Yellow or Blue or “Lenten colour” or unbleached linen, or a deep blood red.
Some senior clergy I’ve spoken to have suggested that Gw in their day meant a Green altar frontal but a white stole! That’s fine for Green and white, even Green and violet might go together, but what happens when the colours clash 🙁 Yuck! And what does it mean a few days earlier November 8 where it is Gr[R]? … that must mean: Green or red or… ummmm… ummmm… Red! Of course – it’s obvious.
One suggestion: Why didn’t they save ink and just write the colour you shouldn’t use? Of course: far too prescriptive (you should never use the word should)!
What do we call that Sunday? (Let’s just stay with the English-language options currently) 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, or Proper 28, or 25th Sunday after Pentecost, or 2nd Sunday before Advent, or Remembrance Sunday, or the Feast of Christ in All Creation (unless, of course, you want to call it something else).
Now to the readings: Let’s stay with November 14 as our example. I count 18 readings you can choose from suggested for a morning service. Woops – I forgot to count the ones for the Feast of Christ in All Creation which is an option. The readings are not provided in the Lectionary (why not?!) For those you have to go to the church’s General Synod Website. The readings are provided under “C” as Wisdom 13:1-9 Or Isaiah 45:9-12 Romans 8:18-25 Or Colossians 1:15-20 John 1:1-5,10-14,18 Or Mark 16:14-20. OK – that brings the total number of suggested readings to choose from for the morning service to 24. This is a competition: if you can find more than 24 readings for any part of the day in the lectionary – please point that out in the comments. Don’t forget – in NZ if you don’t like the suggestion – you can choose your own.
This, remember is a relatively tiny province. There will probably be around 30,000 people in church on the Sunday using those readings. The second competition question is: is there any other province which has so much choice??!! My guess is that any province of any reasonable size is kept unified with a sense of common prayer by having quite a limited number of options. Most fix the readings, the colour, the collect, and give a choice of a few Eucharistic Prayers. In New Zealand you can choose the collect from a wide variety of sources (someone in the comments might like to give the number of collects provided on NZ’s digital Living Liturgy). And if you don’t like the collects provided, you can find another or produce your own.
As to Eucharistic Prayers – I have lost count how many Eucharistic Prayers NZ’s General Synod has authorised. It must be around a dozen. And if you don’t like any of those – General Synod has authorised that you can use any Eucharistic Prayer authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion – anyone got a guess of the number (please add it in the comments)? Maybe a couple of hundred? And if you don’t like any of those you can write your own using any of the frameworks authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion (I can think of three). And if you don’t like that, just use a reading from 1 Cor 11:23ff – we all know communities that do this and are they ever called to account?
(I have not taken into account that for the 2009 Church Year the lectionary provided online was significantly different to the hard-copy version, with different readings and different titles for Sundays – we await this year’s online version to see if even more options are provided).
30,000 in church that Sunday; at least 30,000 different combinations possible. Common Prayer?