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New Zealand Lectionary 2023

You will find New Zealand’s Lectionary Te Maramataka 2023 PDF online (1.65 MB – click link to download).

This post is just a collection of comments from a quick first glance. There is much in a publication such as this that is good and is of value, helping connect to the world-wide church, and back through the traditions of the centuries, while grounding us in this place in the South Pacific, at this time. Those tend to mostly be when the lectionary booklet expresses what we have agreed together – including celebrations of days that are international and ecumenical, as well as of persons who have expressed God’s love and life on these shores.

In a document like a lectionary, the devil, of course, is in the detail. That detail will, for some, appear as nitpicking (gnatpicking?).

The trial collects, a feature of the lectionary booklet over the last few years, are no longer included. I am unaware of what is happening further about that trial [I was asked to contribute one-sixth of them]. Instead, there are the collects in English and Te Reo Māori from the 2020 A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. The introduction to them in the lectionary booklet could be misleading:

The collects printed in ANZPB/HKMOA 2020 Edition, and in the online Prayer Book, are an updated version of those the General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui 2010 approved as an allocation of collects from the material in the original ANZPB/HKMOA, pages 549ff, to fit the RCL readings for Sundays, Major Feasts and Holy Day

Lectionary booklet, page 4

The English-language collects have been to General Synod/ Te Hīnota Whānui (GSTHW) – the Māori translations have a different status: they have not been even to a single meeting of GSTHW, let alone the twice-round process that the Pākehā English-language ones have been through to make them formularies. “Updated version” is, hence, to be interpreted as meaning a translation from English to Māori is central to the “updating”. To be clear: this is nothing to do with the superb quality of the Te Reo translation; it is simply highlighting that Māori liturgical provisions in our three-tikanga church should be of equal status to other resources.

The introduction about collects continues:

A common practice is to use the collect for Sunday during the whole week from the “first Evensong” (on the Saturday night before) until the following Saturday morning. When other provision is made there is reference to it in The Lectionary. It is common also to add the collect for the day’s commemoration.

Lectionary booklet, page 4

It may very well be “common” to have multiple collects – but, I would argue strongly, that it is mistaken to do so. It misunderstands the purpose of the collect and contributes to the sense that the Gathering of the Community which begins the Eucharist is little more than an assemblage of lovely little bits, prayers, verses from the Bible, and stuff to sing – rather than having a grammar and movement which prepares individuals to gather as a community and to prepare this gathered community to hear what the Spirit is saying to us as church.

Furthermore, the church having grown in re-appreciation that the collect, like the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit, this lectionary booklet has now returned to the practice of spin the bottle and pick a Member of the Trinity, any Member, and address a lovely poetic prayer to Whomever the bottle ends up pointing to…

Some errors have not been corrected. General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) went to significant effort (starting nine years ago and debated in every diocesan synod and hui amorangi, then debated again at the next meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui) about the use of “of, in, or after” in titles for Sundays. The agreement was Sundays “of Epiphany” – yet the Lectionary continues to call them Sundays “of the Epiphany”. This error has been pointed out many, many years running now.

Our church’s formulary (agreement) is that “Ordinary time is the period after the Feast of the Presentation of Christ” (February 2). Yet the first Sunday after The Presentation (February 5), rather than being called the “1st Sunday in Ordinary Time” (following our GSTHW ruling) is called the “5th Sunday in Ordinary Time”. [To be fair, this is called ‘Proper 1’]. There is no sign of the 4th or earlier Sundays in Ordinary Time. [My own solution to this would be to change the formulary, and have our Ordinary Time begin the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord following majority Christianity and the originators of the Ordinary Time concept].

The 5th Sunday in Lent (March 26) is optionally called “Passion Sunday” while there is no mention of the Passion. Ecumenical, international reform has the reading of the Passion on the 6th Sunday in Lent (as our Lectionary does also). The title “Passion Sunday” is, hence, best reserved for that international, ecumenical agreement.

“after” was not an option agreed to by GSTHW but “Sunday after Ascension” is an option in the Lectionary for 21 May.

On page 44 begins readings for “the 3rd Week of Lent”. Should that be “in Lent”? Furthermore, these readings are said to originate in “CWL” – there continues to be (year by year) no indication what CWL stands for or its status in our church or why there are not similar readings provided for the 1st and 2nd weeks “of Lent”.

As in previous years, I would be interested to know where this lectionary booklet gets the ruling from: “The reading from Acts must be used each Sunday in Eastertide” (pages 58ff). It may very well be a good idea – but where does “must” come from? We are only required to follow formularies of our church – not what is indicated by this lectionary booklet. This is an important principle. Where the lectionary booklet does not conform to the formularies, we must follow the formularies, not the lectionary booklet. Where the lectionary booklet sets requirements beyond what the formularies require, we do not need to follow the booklet.

[Furthermore, as an aside, where does “Eastertide” come from in this lectionary booklet? Our formularies consistently call this “The Season of Easter”.]

Each year, I have been noting our Anglican Church of Or suggestion to have all four colours in the lectionary for the Second Sunday in November (12 November; page 134). The colours in the lectionary booklet are not required to be followed – in fact, the lectionary booklet itself claims it is simply collating “common practice in most parishes” page 4.

Some clarification: some of the lectionary booklet presents formularies (ANZPB/HKMA or RCL are binding formularies of our Church – with the added new note, since 2020, that there is a 2020 publication called A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa which contains a mixture of formularies and authorised services which are not binding formularies). The majority of what the lectionary booklet presents, however, is not of this agreed binding formulary status. There is no distinction made in the text. For example the lectionary booklet has DEL:

the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary (DEL) are suitable for weekday celebrations of the Eucharist when no other provision is made or when you decide not to use the commemoration of the day. These readings may also be used for a single daily office, if desired.
The DEL (based on the Roman Catholic Daily Eucharistic Lectionary) is a semi-continuous two year lectionary with a wide use of scripture, though not complete coverage of the Bible. Two readings are provided for each day, the first from the Old or New Testament, the second always a Gospel. Psalm provision is intended to be a brief response to the first reading.

Lectionary booklet 2023 page 3

DEL (please correct me if I am wrong) has no official status in our Church. I personally put the DEL alongside my commitment to the 3-year way of organising Sunday readings (in which RCL stands). But that’s just my own appreciation of the most followed system for reading the Bible systematically. In the Anglican Church of Or, while there looks to be no indication that this is so, DEL has no authorised status in our church, whilst the 3-year Sunday system (including RCL) is a vowed-and-signed-up-to-use requirement.

The 3rd and 4th columns, similarly, have no official status in our Church.

And then there’s CW:

On a few occasions where provision is not made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA, material has been included from Common Worship, an adaptation of the Revised Common Lectionary for use in the Church of England (CW).

Lectionary 2023 page 2 and even repeated on page 6!

The situation with CW is fraught. While the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has binding, formulary-level readings which we have agreed to use, on about 15 feast days the Lectionary booklet had the heading CW instead. Thankfully, that has been reducing so that now I count 8.

Other issues of the Anglican Church of Or continue.
November 26 can be:
Christ the King Sunday
or The Reign of Christ Sunday
or 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
or Proper 29
or Sunday before Advent
or Aotearoa Sunday
or Feast of Christ in All Creation
or, of course, A Spring Festival of Praise to the Creator (see page 158).

If you can make sense of some of the other “rules” in The Anglican Church of Or, you are better than I: on Friday January 6 (page 21) The Epiphany ” is a principal feast and should not be displaced by any other celebration” is immediately followed by what can displace it! I am unaware of what in this church is counted as a “celebration” – MUST the Eucharist be celebrated for a feast to be counted as having been celebrated, or what, exactly?!

Finally, “THE BISHOPS” (pages 162-163) states that this gives “Dates of Consecration/Episcopal ordination of those episcopally ordained in or currently resident in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia”. The list is a good one, but the descriptor needs to change (eg. Bishop Victoria Matthews was neither ordained nor is currently resident here).

Are there any things you notice as you skim through the lectionary booklet for 2020 – things you like; things you think can be improved?

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7 thoughts on “New Zealand Lectionary 2023”

  1. It seems that we have for the most part given up on our attempt to demonstrate our trinitarian faith in the Collects. By my brief count, there are only 8 of the total which invoke any sense of the Trinity in the prayer. Thankfully, Trinity Sunday is among them. I know you have written about this many times before but it is baffling that our collects continue to exclude the Holy Spirit most of the time and occasionally also exclude the Father or the Son depending on the direction of the wind that day.

    1. Although, as it appears, it seems to be more a problem that is translated from the 2020 ANZPB collection rather than a problem innate to the Lectionary.

    2. Thanks, Ben – your counting the number is very helpful; plus your highlighting of the other points. If our prayer isn’t within the life of the Trinity, I’m not sure what it is – but I don’t think it is Christian in my understanding of the life that Jesus offers. Blessings.

  2. Also, any insight into the editor’s decision to move the 1st-4th Sundays of/after(?) Epiphany in ANZPB2020 to the section titled “Season after Pentecost”? (pages 617-627)

    It’s almost comical that the section titled “Season after Pentecost” nearly immediately moves to the Season BEFORE Pentecost.

    I mean it seems like they are trying to tied together “Ordinary Time” but it doesn’t exactly work if you label the section Season after Pentecost and then nearly immediately say “the Sunday between these two dates in January or February.

    It is particularly confusing because now the section labelled Season of Epiphany is literally just Epiphany, it is no longer a season in its own section, just a lone Sunday. The Editor has decided to go immediately from Epiphany Sunday to Ash Wednesday (pp 565–566).

    Wouldn’t it be great if there was capacity to talk about such changes and the logic or illogic of those proposals?

    1. Agreed, Fr Ben, that it would be great (and easy to facilitate) a digital space (as other churches have before publication) where the liturgical hive mind could improve proposals – or at least help mitigate blind spots of a single person’s work.

      You will be interested in the issues around this coming Sunday, possibly the one with the lowest attendance and yet with possibly the largest confusion!

      Further responding to and expanding your points: The Season of Epiphany in the 2020 “ANZPB” (NB scare quotes) isn’t even a Sunday as you suggest; it can simply be a weekday. Season after Pentecost (is that even a season in our Church?! I am going to say that officially, it is NOT!!!) is in 2020ANZPB only one Sunday. Pages 617ff Baptism of the Lord does not even have a heading, and the pages you point to 617-627 could (should?) have been placed within the Epiphany Season. [My preference is to go with the world’s majority Christian position beginning Ordinary Time at the Baptism of the Lord]. The Fourth Sunday of Epiphany (page 625 2020ANZPB) can fall after the Feast of the Presentation of Christ – which, by NZ Anglicanism, can actually not be “of Epiphany” but in Ordinary Time. At the bottom of the page, there is a newly-created, with-no-status Season Before Lent (and I do not know why Before is capitalised, but after is not in the newly-minted Season after Pentecost

      The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (page 635) can occur before Lent – notwithstanding that the red at the bottom of that page claims this is the Season after Pentecost. It SO irks me that there is a Fifth (and following) Sunday in Ordinary Time – but no Fourth, Third, Second, or First! We could continue – the primary issue is that, since the 1989 publication of NZPB/HKMA, patch after patch has been added and altered with bits from hither and thither without any coherence or overarching theory or approach.


    1. I’m not sure where you are, Tim (and I’m presuming you’ve seen the link where you can download it) – I would presume you can contact your own diocesan office for this; otherwise Ecclesia Books (Christchurch) or Pleroma or Church Stores immediately spring to mind. I hope that helps. Blessings.

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