2015 Lectionary

Diocesan Synods are meeting in New Zealand. Many of them are reconsidering whether to assent to statutes fromGeneral Synod Te Hinota Whanui that they didn’t assent to last year. My plea is send them all back for further work. They all could do with significant improvements.

One Statute (713) seems to be simply about whether we call it a Sunday IN Advent (eg. The Third Sunday in Advent) or a Sunday OF Advent (The Third Sunday of Advent). But, unsurprisingly, there’s more to this once you dig down.

Whether to use “of” or “in” may keep some of the liturgical scholars in our church awake at night. It doesn’t me; sorry.

Roman Catholics and the Church of England have “of Advent” and “of Lent” (so obviously the majority international titles).
The Episcopal Church (TEC) has “of Advent” and “in Lent”.
Australian Anglicans have “in Advent” and “in Lent”.
Get over it.

We, apparently, want to go with TEC – a minority usage for these titles.

But that isn’t my issue with this statute.

This statute is one of three now doing the rounds of diocesan synods. All three need further work, and I urge you to vote No.

  • The most important one is Statute 711 seeking to change the Constitution. Last weekend the synod of my diocese met and, with the advice of our chancellor, and the support of the Ven. Dr Peter Carrell, I was pleased that we resoundingly voted No to this statute which would have us abandon our “twice round” requirement to authorise services, with its checks and balances, and involving dioceses. That statute, unnecessary for Tikanga Pakeha, would have resulted in two classes of services: English, Pakeha formularies, sources of doctrine, and a second class, for example, Maori ones consistent with the English, Pakeha ones.
  • A second one, Statute 712, is also unnecessary. It seeks a confusing revision to our already-convoluted baptism rite.

The issue with the “ofs and ins” Statute 713, that this post is focusing on, is with a formulary that this statute will sit on, and how this one, 713, if passed, combines with that formulary to lead to increased confusion. Unfortunately, explaining all that is impossible in the three minutes allowed in a synod speech! It was discussed at diocesan synods last year – and no one voted in favour of it. We are being asked to consider it again.

My issue is not with the ins and ofs of Advent and Lent Sunday titles. The formulary that this will sit on is “Liturgical Precedence 2009“. That formulary rules  that “Ordinary time is the period after the Feast of the Presentation of Christ…” (February 2).

So – this is not that difficult: if we follow our NZ rules, this year, Sunday February 8 would have been, according to that Precedence formulary and the counting system proposed in Statute 713, the 1st Sunday in Ordinary Time, wouldn’t it?! Well the rest of the planet, on that Sunday, was already up to the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time! If we follow these rules we are developing, which mix nice ideas from one place, inconsistently with stuff someone else likes from somewhere else, we soon end up with nonsense and confusion.

Years ago, an apparently minor misunderstanding had New Zealand Anglicans using wrong readings for years – we were one year out of step with all other churches! And when I pointed it out I was told there was nothing we could do – we were, apparently, following our rules. Some of you will remember reading the same readings two years in a row so that we could finally get into step with the rest of the international, ecumenical church! Don’t say reading out of step with the rest of the church won’t happen again.

This year (see image above) we have added “Propers” to our numbering system without any explanation whatsoever. Last Sunday (as you see above) was “Proper 18”. In the Anglican Church of Canada it was Proper 23.

If you are not following all this, do the right thing: send all the statutes back to General Synod for further work. All the statutes need them!

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I blogged on this topic 16 months ago; you an read that post here.

I repeat the full text of Statute 713 from there:

A Bill to Amend the Reference to Sunday Titles in all Formularies, Canons, and Publications of this Church

Whereas, various provisions exist for naming the Sundays in The Calendar – Te Maramataka, and these differ between the A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa on pages 4-6 and pages 692-723, the Revised Common Lectionary, the Notes on the Calendar, and Celebrating Common Prayer, and

Whereas, consistency is desirable,

This General Synod/te Hīnota Whānui enacts as follows:

1. Title. The title of this Statute shall be The Reference to Sunday Titles in all Formularies, Canons, and Publications of this Church Statute 2014.

2. Purpose. To amend the Reference to Sunday Titles in all Formularies, Canons, and Publications of this Church.

3. The Sunday Titles should be described as being ‘of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter’ and ‘in Lent and Ordinary Time’ in all references in Formularies/Canons/Publications of this Church, noting especially in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa pages 4-6, 525-536, and 550-602.

4. Clause 3 of this Statute is the adoption of a specific proposal in terms of Part B, Clause 6(a) of the Constitution/te Pouhere, and Section 4(a) of the Church of England Empowering Act 1928, and shall be made known to Te Runanganui o Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, the Synod of the Diocese of Polynesia, and the several Diocesan Synods in New Zealand.

One of the motivations of this Bill is laudable, “consistency is desirable”; clearly I think this statute does not achieve that.

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