19 January 2014
Let’s be clear about what Anglicans in NZ (the Anglican Church of Or) have agreed to: the Revised Common Lectionary [General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) 1998; confirmed GSTHW 2000].

Let’s be clear and honest about what we have not agreed to: we have not agreed to use For All the Saints (FAS – second column in the lectionary booklet); we have not agreed to use the Church of England Common Worship stuff that makes up the third and fourth column of the lectionary booklet; we have not agreed to use the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary (DEL)* that provides readings for weekday communion; we have not agreed to any particular liturgical colours.

Let’s be clear about confusion: we use the word “lectionary” for the binding, agreed readings system passed by GSTHW. We also use the word “lectionary” for the annual publication (PDF here; section shown in the snapshot above). For this second usage of the word “lectionary”, I tend to use terms like “lectionary booklet” to help unmuddy the water.

Our lectionary booklet calls this coming Sunday the “2nd Sunday of the Epiphany” and has the liturgical colour as White (see image above). Go on be an absolute rebel: use Green on Sunday, and call it the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The majority Christian liturgical colour used for this coming Sunday is Green. The majority Christian title for this coming Sunday is The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The lectionary booklet, in its introductory section How to use the Lectionary, itself correctly states “Liturgical colours… are not mandatory but reflect common practice in most parishes. Traditional or local uses may be followed where established.”

Whereas, for other Sundays, up to four liturgical colour options are provided in the lectionary booklet (one of the reasons this church is known as The Anglican Church of Or), this coming Sunday only has one: White. There is no explanation provided why, in this Anglican Church of Or, Green, the majority Christian colour for this Sunday, is not provided.

For the majority of our church’s history, right through until 2001, our church obviously followed majority Christian usage and used Green for this Sunday. Then the liturgical powers that run our church’s lectionary booklet surveyed all the parishes and found that “common practice in most parishes” had suddenly and magically gone from their practice a year before of  Green to White. And so, that is what our lectionary booklet now puts for this Sunday (and the rest of January’s Sundays). It must be such a HUGE common practice and such an UNPRECEDENTED change that (unlike in other parts of the lectionary booklet) no alternative is provided but White. [For those who do not know me well enough, I am printing some of the words that should be heard in a sarcastic tone in magenta. No, bishops, that is not purple – it is magenta.]

Now don’t forget – these colours in the lectionary booklet aren’t prescribed, or even agreed to. They describe the actual statistical norm in actual parish practice; as it says, colours indicated in the lectionary booklet merely “reflect common practice in most parishes.” What the lectionary booklet is asserting is that until 2001 Green was the “common practice in most parishes”. And then suddenly White became the “common practice in most parishes”. Amazing!!! [Those looking for a sociology doctoral topic take note].

Then there’s the title. In 2014 it suddenly, and for the first time here, is the “2nd Sunday of the Epiphany”. We have actually agreed to titles for our Sundays – and, yep you guessed it: this is not one of the titles we have agreed to! Last year the title was the “2nd Sunday after the Epiphany” (the title from 2011-2013; 2008-2010: “2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time”…). There isn’t even a footnote why the change from last year to this year! February 9, the Sunday after the “4th Sunday of the Epiphany” suddenly becomes “5th Sunday in Ordinary Time” – again, without so much as even a footnote to explain what happened to the other 4 Sundays in Ordinary Time.

Counting one’s way through Ordinary Time (“Ordinary” as in “counting”, just as one speaks of “ordinal numbers”) is, of course, perfectly acceptable. It is one of the options provided as a title in the Revised Common Lectionary (remember: our agreed formulary, see the first paragraph of this post), and, of course, the only title provided in the (binding/agreed) New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa when using the three year series of Sunday readings. It is the title used by the majority of Christians for Sunday.

So go on be a rebel: use Green on Sunday and call it the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Actually, as I hope is clear, you aren’t such a rebel doing this. Sorry.  We haven’t agreed to using White; and while we’ve agreed we can call this Sunday the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, we cannot call it the “2nd Sunday of the Epiphany”. In that title the lectionary booklet is just out of line. It is the rebel. Novelty for novelty’s sake.

I suppose, if you like, you can take this post to be part of reflecting on this province’s situation in which it is all but impossible to agree on what it is that we have actually agreed on. Clergy vow and sign that we will only lead liturgy that we have agreed to, but the rules and regulations are such a patchwork of new patches on old cloths that the tears and holes increase week by week. Our liturgical powers that be cannot even be relied upon.

Our diocesan synod passed unanimously with acclamation my motion to ask GSTHW to set in motion a review on liturgical agreement. GSTHW could not agree to discuss it – so it has been left (one presumes) to be dealt with by the we-never-hear-from-them Standing Committee.

As no review of our liturgical agreements appears forthcoming, I have embarked on my own reviews:
NZ Anglican Eucharist Requirements
NZ Anglican Marriage Requirements

* ps. I have regularly advocated that if you are looking for one simple daily Bible reading discipline, use the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary. It reads through the Gospels every year and most of the rest of the Bible every two years. It is the most-used Bible reading scheme in the world – so you are prayerfully sharing with millions of other Christians in this daily discipline around the world. They are provided in the Chapel of this site as Today’s Eucharist Readings (NAB).

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