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Lectionary Distortion in Anglican Church of Or – Again

August Lectionary

For this coming Sunday, the Lectionary booklet of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (also known as the Anglican Church of Or) provides for an option where “the Transfiguration is transferred to Monday 7 August” (see image above). But this option is not allowed for in our Church’s Formularies (the agreed teaching and practices of our Church).

The Transfiguration is a Principal Feast and our Church has agreed (at the highest level – Formulary) “the liturgical provision for them should not be displaced by any other celebration”. (You can find the Formulary here).

The Lectionary booklet justifies providing an alternative (“Or” Ordinary Sunday 18) for this coming Sunday on its page 138 where it claims that

General Synod made the following provisions for precedence in liturgical observance…. The following Principal Feasts are to be observed: … The Transfiguration of the Beloved Son, …These are indicated in the The Lectionary by the use of BOLD CAPITALS. On these days the Eucharist is normally celebrated. These days are not normally displaced by any other celebration except in accord with the guidelines provided by General Synod as indicated in The Lectionary.

I am unaware of General Synod making the provisions that the Lectionary booklet claims for itself. When did General Synod change our agreement from “should not be displaced” to the Lectionary booklet’s claim: “are not normally displaced”?

I am fine about being demonstrated to be incorrect – so please correct me if I am wrong – but my understanding is that, whether we like it or not, we have agreed by Formulary (the complex, twice to General Synod, debating and voting in every diocesan synod and hui amorangi, and a year for anyone to object) that this coming Sunday we will celebrate the Transfiguration. If I am incorrect, then this is an “OR” I have been unaware of in our Anglican Church of Or. And there must, then, be even more ORs than I had previously thought – including that we can follow the Lectionary booklet OR our Church’s Formulary published on our Church’s official website – even though these contradict each other. How Anglican would that be!

Here, then, is a collect for this coming (Transfiguration) Sunday:

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may grow into the likeness of Christ]


Transfiguring God,
before the passion of your beloved Son
you revealed his glory on the holy mountain:
grant that we who by faith behold the light of his face
may be strengthened to bear the cross,
and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;
through the same Jesus Christ
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

And here is my reflection connecting the Transfiguration, Hiroshima, and World Peace day:

On this day in 1945, someone climbed not a holy mountain, but into the cockpit of a plane – a machine of war. There had been a lull of a week in the fighting between America and Japan. The Americans had a new secret weapon and they wanted to use it with the maximum psychological effect. On August 6 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Here we have a new voice booming from heaven. Here too was brightness, brilliant as burning magnesium. Here too is a cloud that has come and has covered us all with shadow. Truly, under the shadow of this new cloud, we are right to feel afraid.

The shape of that cloud hangs now forever in our sky. Look at the shape of that cloud. It is the new tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have eaten of its fruit and we shall never be the same again.

We today commemorate Hiroshima day, world peace day, by telling again the story of another climb, another light, another voice, another cloud. Jesus there was speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Jesus was speaking of his death, his destruction by another tree, the cross. And we meet today below that cross, to break bread and proclaim the victory of Christ’s death over every evil, even the total annihilation by human evil.

See more here.

For some further reflection on Lectionary issues you can begin here:
Beginning 2017 in The Anglican Church of Or
Continuing 2017 in The Anglican Church of Or
Anglican Church of Or Breaks Agreement Again

It may be worth repeating that in the Anglican Church of Or

liturgy generally, and the lectionary specifically, is presented as an opaque, esoteric hobby that even the top experts of our church cannot agree on or get right. Why bother with it?! Any of it.

Ps. The heading (source) for the readings (propers) for the Transfiguration in the Lectionary booklet is “CW” (The Church of England’s Common Worship). Shouldn’t that heading be ANZPB/HKMOA (our own Prayer Book)? CW has no formal status in our church.
PPs. The readings for the Transfiguration in the Lectionary booklet are from CW – these are actually different to the readings that are the agreed Formularies of our Church. The readings for Sunday actually are

Daniel 7:9-14 (or 9-10,13-14)
Psalm 97
2 Peter 1:16-19(-21)
Matthew 17:1-9

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13 thoughts on “Lectionary Distortion in Anglican Church of Or – Again”

  1. It may be helpful to think of the lectionary like a computer program – and there are many guidelines for writing software that include error checking, and (especially from Donald Knuth and later) methodologies that aim to produce “correct” code from the start. Obviously with the lectionary there are system requirements that have been documented but not passed on to the “programmers”!

    Solution: get a computer program to create the lectionary each year, and ensure its programmers have access to the full list of requirements, and the output is bug-checked properly. Unfortunately that might not work because we are so used to software having bugs (the reason to buy updates, after all) that our expectations might drop too low. [sigh]

    1. I think your analogy, Mark, is very helpful. I think that we have been keeping on putting patches on patches on patches, with different people, in different generations (iterations) adding new patches without seeing how this affects earlier patches. I have long been calling for a review that looks at what is actually required, allowed, and forbidden. We even had synodical support for such a review – but, basically, it came to nought (pun intended). Blessings.

  2. Part of the problem, I think, Bosco, is the type of lectionary editor who gives the impression that the Feast of the Transfiguration is on a Sunday in the first part of the year and somehow date optional by saying either (using Year C examples) (a) “Last Sunday after Epiphany – Transfiguration” or (b) “Second Sunday in Lent … or Luke 9.28-36 [Transfiguration Gospel]”. I’m sure that to many it seems like 6 Aug is but one of three options, and probably the least of them.

    Since the Transfiguration reading can be omitted on (a) by using the alternative “xth Sunday after the Epiphany” set of readings and on (b) by using the alternative gospel reading, I have no idea why it seems central to such editors to emphasize it on either of those Sundays.

    1. Thanks, Robert, but if you check the Lectionary booklet, what you describe is actually not happening. Although RCL provides for it, the Transfiguration is not an option provided in the Lectionary booklet 2017 on the Sunday before Lent. It is simply provided as one of the two Gospel readings for Lent 2. Blessings.

      1. Sadly it is here in Australia. We have three dates that appear to be the Feast of the Transfiguration, but only one of them is.

  3. Hi Bosco,
    I know you much prefer light to heat but maybe it’s time to name and shame?
    I presume GSTHW has given someone, or group of someones, the responsibility for the compilation and production of our lectionary?
    Who holds that responsibility? If it’s a team effort, who chairs the team?
    What role does the Common Life Liturgical group play?

    When I was in parish ministry I became so dismayed by the errors in our lectionary that I purchased a copy of the Canadian Roman Catholic Bishops’ Lectionary. As you are aware this is not a paperback pamphlet with lists of daily scripture but a very beautiful lectern book containing the actual readings for each day of the three year Sunday cycle. There is also a weekday version. Our Parish Lectors loved it! No more flicking about in the Bible trying to find the page. And, above all, a level of accuracy that leaves our NZ Anglican efforts looking very amateur.
    Perhaps those responsible in NZ could take a leaf from that book? (pun intended).

    Thank you very much for the Hiroshima reminder!

    1. Yes, Peter, I use such Sunday and weekday books. I haven’t time to find the links currently – but maybe that is something I should blog about in due course. Blessings.

  4. The Transfiguration of our Lord is one of the three feast duplications of the calendar. (Good Friday is duplicated on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; Maundy Thursday is duplicated on Corpus Christi.) Even in the Byzantine rite, the hymnody of the 6th August says: «Grant us to behold thy passion and the glorious day of thy resurrection», which demonstrates that the primitive feast of the Transfiguration occurred in Lent.

    6 August is the feast of the grape harvest, which the early Church inherited from the OT. The transfiguration episode was read on this occasion. Therefore, the object of the feast was moved. (Another such example is the 15th August.) And, as the situation is as it is, the Transfiguration – just like Corpus Christi and Holy Cross – should be a feast with octave: one of the 12 feasts of the Lord, or dominical feasts.

    How weird to have Daniel 7! The traditional (read: Eastern and Oriental) OT readings for the Transfiguration are the theophanies to Moses and Elijah on mountains. God being outside the space-time, Jesus’ transfiguration, the theophany to Moses, and the theophany to Elijah are the same event.

    1. Thanks, George. If you connect 6 August and grape harvest, what are you connecting 15 August with? Blessings.

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