crossIt is, for me, beyond comprehension how the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP), a church noted for its commitment to Te Reo Maori and Polynesian languages, has just passed a Bill that, unless there is an appeal during the following year, will make Ashes to Fire (a collection of liturgies for the Seasons of Lent and Easter) part of the formal formularies of our church. Beyond the occasional, token “E te whanau a te Karaiti” there is little that even locates these liturgies in the Southern Hemisphere. And someone else will have to point to any use of a Polynesian language – I cannot see even a syllable’s worth.

I haven’t put much energy into reviewing Ashes to Fire. I have been more interested in trying to understand the principle of what our church thought it was doing when it passed it at General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) 2010, followed by every Episcopal unit (except, yay, the one I am a member of), and back through GSTHW 2012, and now waiting another year for it to be … ummm… what?!!! Exactly?!

The issue of exactly what it will be after another year of waiting is best illustrated by the right question that was asked at GSTHW on Monday, 9 July: will passing Ashes to Fire as a formulary of our church mean that other Lent and Easter Season resources will not be allowed to be used? Our rules and regulations and processes have become so convoluted, complex, and complicated that the question could not be answered! It was left for a judge to work on overnight. The reply came back three days later.

This was the official answer: yes, you can use all the other Lent and Easter Season resources, and create your own, because such resources fit within the Form for ordering the Eucharist, the Alternative form for ordering the Eucharist, and the Form for Ordering a service of the Word – all three being formularies of our church.

You can use any of the rites in the Anglican Communion; the RC rites; the rites in Celebrating Eucharist; Maori, Hindi, Fijian, Samoan, Tongan rites; if you can’t find what you want, you can make them up.

Now before you go “phew! that’s good” just pause and reflect: everything in Ashes to Fire was allowed to be used before all this palaver. For exactly the same reason! No one, but no one, has been able to explain why our church has gone through this ridiculously lengthy, time-consuming (time-wasting?! NB: there was no time to deal with two-thirds of the motions on the agenda of GSTHW2012!), expensive process when nothing, absolutely nothing is different after all these years of effort to before this process of making this a formulary began. Unless you are going to tell me that Ashes to Fire changes doctrine – that’s the only explanation I can imagine. If so, that was, to my knowledge, never mentioned. What really drove all this?!

Before adding some of the other online resources here for easy reference, let’s look at a couple of details as examples from Ashes to Fire.

With the greatest respect, I do not understand why a Maori bishop, Te Kitohi Pikaahu, and the Polynesian archbishop, Winston Halapua, were the mover and seconder of a Bill to make Ashes to Fire a formulary when the Te Reo Maori in the services is token, and the presence of Polynesian languages is non-existent. This is not a Tikanga Maori or Tikanga Polynesia collection of services – this is obviously a Tikanga Pakeha collection (and that at its most monocultural/monolingual end of the spectrum) with the illusion of this as an appropriate formulary for the whole church being reinforced by having a Tikanga Maori and a Tikanga Polynesia bishop seek its passing.

Flicking through the often-verbose pages and sometimes-unclear instructions one immediately notices the “Renewal of Baptism vows”. Well, one of the “breakthroughs” of the baptism rite in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa was that no one made promises on behalf of a child being baptised! So anyone baptised as a child using that rite has made no vows which can be renewed! Any rite of renewal in ACANZP can renew baptism but not baptismal vows!

Next, in the flick through, we see the service of renewal of ordination vows. These, in Ashes to Fire, are made not to the bishop (as is the norm) but to a lay person.

Has anyone actually used Ashes to Fire? Will anyone actually use Ashes to Fire? Did people at GSTHW, and these episcopal units that passed it, actually look at Ashes to Fire?

Please tell me: What is the real driver of this process? Wasting time on a set of services that in no way changes their usability; on services many of which lots of people, maybe most, would not dream of using; setting a standard in the opposite direction to that which our church has been moving in for decades now…

Here are some alternatives which has now been clarified at GSTHW are just as much allowed to be used as Ashes to Fire:

BCP (TEC)

Proper liturgies for special days

Common Worship (CofE)

Celebrating Eucharist

Some Resources for the Church Year

Lenten preparation (catechumenate)
Ash Wednesday
Lent
receiving the Lord’s Prayer (catechumenate)
receiving the creed (catechumenate)
enrolment for baptism (catechumenate)
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday

Easter Vigil
Easter Season
Pentecost Vigil
Day of Pentecost

If you know any other similar resources, please add them to the comments below.
This is the second post in a series reflecting on some of the decisions made at GSTHW.

Similar Posts: