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