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liturgy at General Synod

I have been able to find out a bit more about debates relating to liturgy at the meeting of General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia meeting in Gisborne from today. Motion 5 (below) is the one that confuses and concerns me most, followed by the bill on Ashes to Fire.

There is a bill to confirm the removal in the Prayer Book of
for all who through their own or others’ actions are deprived of fullness of life
for prisoners, refugees, the handicapped, and all who are sick.
and replacing it with
for all who are deprived of fullness of life,
for prisoners, refugees, and those who are sick.

There is a bill to confirm the addition of certain people to the formulary of our calendar:
Mary MacKillop, Brother Roger, Mother Teresa, CS Lewis, Thomas Merton (I set this process in motion, though my hope had been that, as well as these, a much larger revision of our calendar was undertaken)

There is a bill to confirm that the New Living Translation may be read in church.

There is a bill confirming authorisation of eight new Eucharistic Prayers (Alternative Great Thanksgiving A-F, and for use with Children A & B)

There is a bill proposing that a resource Ashes to Fire: Liturgy for the Seasons of Lent and Easter become Alternative Services. I’m not sure what it is “alternative to” as we’ve previously never authorised anything like this. Also I’m not sure of the intended status? Is this the start of the “twice round process” (passed by GS, by majority of pakeha dioceses, hui amorangi, and diocese of Polynesia, & back to GS, and then a year’s wait) through which this will be come a formulary? And if so, does that mean we must use this and nothing else during Lent and Easter? Or will this be a recommended resource, but we can continue to source excellent other material? I have not spent sufficient time with this material to give an opinion if the intention is that we will use this and nothing else from Lent through Easter. Also, even if that is the intention of General Synod, the reality will be that the church here would continue to use and create other material. You can download a PDF of Ashes to Fire here.

Motion 5 I think needs even more clarification. It is unclear to me whether it is intended to replace everything in our Prayer Book from pages 549 to 723 as it appears to be suggesting. Certainly it cannot do that as those pages are formularies of our church. If the intention is that this is yet another resource for liturgy in this province, I can live with that, even though I do not agree with the way that many prayers are associated with the lectionary as if they are collects.

The central prayer of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the Eucharistic Prayer, in which we clearly, in Christ, are in relationship with God (the First Person of the Trinity, the Father/Matua), in the power of the Spirit. The central prayer of the Liturgy of the Word, the collect, normatively has this same dynamic. In the collect the tradition has us clearly, in Christ, in relationship with God (the First Person of the Trinity, the Father/Matua), in the power of the Spirit. The collect is not another nice little prayer addressed to whatever person of the Trinity your liturgical bottle has stopped spinning at. Many “collects” in our Prayer Book have neither this dynamic (they are, rather, addressed to Jesus or the Holy Spirit), nor (of lesser significance) the structure of a collect, however we have always been free to choose a collect which does have this dynamic. This resource in motion 5 spreads the three collects provided for each Sunday in the Prayer Book across the three years of the lectionary. I hope that our province will work towards a better way to associate collects with the lectionary. And that such collects associated follow the structure and dynamics of the inherited tradition. This motion is clearly not a formulary, and I would strongly oppose any development that would make it compulsory to use the suggestions, not leaving open the option of following the structure and dynamics of our inherited tradition.

I would speak against motion 5
because it is confused and merely increases liturgical confusion in our province. It also encourages the use of nice little prayers to Jesus and the Holy Spirit which may be wonderful in other contexts but inappropriate as the core prayer for the Liturgy of the Word.

Here is an earlier article I wrote on collect vandalism. This includes PDFs of what motion 5 is proposing be “authorised” as “replacing” our formulary pages (something, of course, that cannot be done in this manner).
Here is an explanation of the collect in my book Celebrating Eucharist.
Further reading on the collect.

Here is my call for General Synod information to be available online.
Here is my General Synod wish-list.

A participant’s blog

And don’t forget to pray for the meeting of General Synod.

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9 thoughts on “liturgy at General Synod”

  1. By the by, Fr. Bosco,

    In chapel this morning at the convent of the Society of St. Margaret http://www.ssmbos.com/ here in Boston, I noted today, Saturday, May 8, 2010, is the feast of Julian of Norwich, Spiritual Writer, c.1417, and that in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we prayed for the Church of Christchurch, New Zealand http://www.chch.anglican.org.nz/ and her bishop, The Rt Victoria Matthews.


    1. Thanks Brian. These are the sort of connections that can hold us all together. I have prayed in Julian’s cell. I’m currently reading a biography of an American anchoress in the 20th century (Sr Nazarena). To complete the connections, I think I am right that our bishop has worked with the Society of St Margaret including in Haiti. It is good to be connected in prayer. There is a wonderful Episcopalian Order of Julian of Norwich – let’s also remember them.

      1. Hi Bosco – I agree with your thought that it is good to be connected in prayer, through the people we meet on our spiritual journey. They make Christ more real. The Julians (OJn) offered prayers before my ordination, and the Cowleys (SSJE) sent a little card. I remain friend and associate.

  2. I am aware of concern expressed that the eight new eucharistic prayers once again increase diversity rather than common prayer, and I have sympathy for this concern. Six of the prayers, however, are actually essentially material already in our Prayer Book and the responses have been brought into line with the ecumenically agreed ones. This is not the case with one of the last two, but, overall and on balance, I would argue that the inclusion of these prayers increases rather than decreases common prayer. (I think in the way they are presented one either votes for all or against all).

    Updates on General Synod:
    Taonga (I have a contribution in that Engagement in relation to web presence)
    Bishop Kelvin Wright
    Rev Peter Carrell
    Sharlene Douglas-Huriwai

  3. Your saying: “…addition of certain people to the formulary of our calendar… as well as these, a much larger revision of our calendar…” prompted me to think of the value of recalling the interesting and inspiring lives of earlier Christians. Perhaps what would be good would be for people at the parish level to look at those that are listed (perhaps grab a copy of Ken’s book), and those that could be, and report back which stories are the most helpful, since the list benefits from the way it is compiled – free of requiring miracles or some competition over who is the “best” Christian, but at least partly has the idea of which stories bring the most glory to God and inspire us?

  4. I ran a series on this site for a while, Mark, giving current celebrations on the calendar as well as my suggestions, and seeking others to add further ideas. It did not lead to much contribution, but one day I might start that again, as I think your point a good idea. Mark is referring to the book For all the Saints. This used to be online, but has unfortunately been taken off the web while the official Anglican website is being upgraded (which is a great thing!)

    Motion 5, Vincent, is lengthy and I do not have it digitally. As I am not present, for all I know it is being amended, or withdrawn. It may be better for someone actually there to keep us up to date on the debate around it – preferably tweeting the debate 🙂

  5. The removal of ‘handicapped’ raises intriguing questions. We are all ‘wounded healers’ so ‘handicapped’ applies to us all unless we consider the truth that we are wounded healers and recognise the fact is in reality a measure of our wholeness not a handicap.
    The alternative understanding perhaps is that we are increasingly reluctant to use descriptive terminology that accurately describes the state of a person if that reality is different from ‘average’. Are we engaged in a form of deception or an unfair assumption that those who are handicapped in the traditional meaning of the word are unable to face their reality? That seems insulting but I confess to a work in progress on these issues
    John Marcon

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