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New Zealand Lectionary 2024

You will find New Zealand’s Lectionary Te Maramataka 2024 PDF online (1.75 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 resources that are good and of value 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? cf Matt 23:24).

Making Choices in Planning Common Prayer

On page 9 is a brand new section called “Making Choices in Planning Common Prayer”. The shift from being shaped by liturgy to shaping liturgy is such an important (mostly-overlooked!) presupposition that it really needs a whole blog post to itself.

But, until then: I have said previously that the dynamic of “prayer shapes belief” (lex orandi, lex credendi) is reversed in a period of liturgical reform. Liturgical reform has “belief shapes prayer” as foundational (lex credendi, lex orandi). What has happened since the liturgical reforms which began at least in the 1960s, a culture has come into existence that liturgical reform is incessant. There is no pause in which the current generation(s) are being shaped by liturgy. Liturgy is incessantly being shaped by individuals (mostly) and sometimes in a shared way (notwithstanding the directive on page 511 of A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (ANZPB/HKMOA), that it is not simply the leader who makes the call to create common worship but this “requires careful preparation by the presiding priest and participants“).

This leads to the second very important point: page 9 of the NZ Lectionary booklet 2024 articulates the reality that common prayer is about praying in common as separate communities (in this new sense, any group gathering for worship is common prayer!). This is a different understanding of the term “common prayer” – in the past (and still, for example, amongst Roman Catholics or even other Anglican Provinces) “common prayer” means that wherever one went, one would experience the same readings, the same collect, and so forth. The Book of Common Prayer (first published in 1549) unified different practices into one use, one common prayer:

And whereas heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this Realm; some following Salisbury Use, some Hereford Use, and some the Use of Bangor, some of York, some of Lincoln; now from henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one Use.

Concerning the Service of the Church – Book of Common Prayer

Although the “Making Choices” (page 9) of the NZ Lectionary booklet presents this approach in its second paragraph:

The reason this Church provides a lectionary is to enable the whole people of God to join in unity across time and space by praying the same scriptures together, and thus we listen to the voice of Christ together across time and space, and are united to the Head of the Body, participating in Christ’s eternal offering of the prayer to God.

Making Choices in Planning Common Prayer – NZ Lectionary booklet 2024 page 9

In fact, in the same passage, there is immediately added:

Some ministry units have daily celebrations of Eucharist and also offer morning and evening prayer every day. In other places there may be only one service a week, and in that place the form of service may vary from week to week as well.

Planning worship is an important pastoral responsibility. … Those presiding and planning worship, however, also need to make sure that the readings are appropriate to the needs of the people of God who gather …Careful selection of readings for those who gather, within the options available in the Lectionary/Te Maramataka, is an important aspect of the pastoral leadership of God’s holy people.

Making Choices in Planning Common Prayer – NZ Lectionary booklet 2024 page 9

On that page, it then goes on to list bullet points which already divides our Church into at least sixteen possible different options (Epiphany on 6 January and All Saints on a Sunday; Epiphany on a Sunday and All Saints on 1 November,… in fact the Lectionary booklet – page 134 – allows for celebrating All Saints twice – on 1 November AND on the Sunday, drawing in Church of England Common Worship readings because NZ runs out of authorised options at that point – so we are already up to twenty-four possible different options). Those who have wondered, calling our Church The Anglican Church of Or is now understood. Since the regular use by our politicians, “Coalition of Chaos” may be more regularly used for our Church!

To mitigate the above reflection: it is true that the Sunday Gospel from the Revised Common Lectionary is a common text that will reliably be read in a large number of NZ Anglican congregations. Beyond such a statement, little more can be said.

Lectionary Booklet Reflections

On the publication of ANZPB/HKMOA, much was made of the “A” – it is A New Zealand Prayer Book [the Te Reo Māori title of this Prayer Book emphasises the same – “He” not “Te”]. Anglicans were not arrogant enough to claim production of THE New Zealand Prayer Book. Year by year, however, the Lectionary booklet continues to call it The New Zealand Prayer Book [Lectionary booklet page 2].

ANZPB/HKMOA‘s Calendar (ANZPB/HKMOA pages 14-23) has, without explanation, some celebrations in bold and some not [The Visitation is not bold on May 31, but bold on July 2; the 2020 publication also called “ANZPB/HKMOA reverses the bolding!].

In the 2024 Lectionary booklet (p 2) there is an explanation of its bolding:

If the day is a feast or holy day that is indicated in bold type and by the date being given greater prominence. Other commemorations are indicated in ordinary type.

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 4), 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 ‘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.]. 

Issues such as this arise because our church is attempting, rather than having our own thought-through consistent approach, to stitch together Church of England, Roman Catholic, Revised Common Lectionary, and other systems.

On page 44 begins readings for “the 3rd Week of Lent”. These readings are said to originate in “CWL” – there is no indication what CWL stands for or its status in our church, nor 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 56ff). 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 (page 58, etc)? Our formularies consistently call this “The Season of Easter”. And our Church is currently going through the arduous “twice round” process to remove “The” from “The Season of Easter”.]

Page 110 has the very confused collect of praying to Jesus through Jesus!

Living host,
call us together,
call us to eat and drink with you.
Grant that by your body and your blood
we may be drawn to each other and to you.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

NZ Lectionary booklet 2024 page 110

Our formulary stops at “…may be drawn to each other and to you.” THAT’S our agreed formulary! The addition of praying this prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour” hasn’t gone through any reading in GSTHW. The actual, formularies NZPBHKMA (1989-2005) suggests that we may add this conclusion: “Hear this prayer for your love’s sake. Amen.” (page 549)- which works fine (if you are into replacing a Trinitarian collect with this lovely prayer to Jesus). But, of course, my own preference and practice is to conclude gathering the community with a prayer addressed to the First Person of the Trinity, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit (as one does also in the Eucharistic Prayer).

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 (10 November). 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) [no mention of schools, non-parish cathedral, or other ministry units].

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 (the tradition 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 (Common Worship).

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 some feast days the Lectionary booklet has the heading CW instead. It is certainly not the case that “On a few occasions where provision is not made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA, material has been included from Common Worship” (p.2).

It is simply not true, to take the first occurence of CW, that “provision is not made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA” for Mothering Sunday, March 10 (Lectionary p46). A full page of resources is provided for this, including a set of readings, in ANZPB/HKMOA page 690.

The next occurrence of CW is instructive. 19 March in the Lectionary is a bold-type St Joseph of Nazareth (page 49). In ANZPB/HKMOA is “ordinary type” (ie. NOT bold) on ANZPB/HKMOA page 16. There is no reference to St Joseph of Nazareth in the list of ANZPB/HKMOA page 8. Normally, in such a context, the lectionary would simply provide readings from the (non-binding New Zealand Anglican resource) For All the Saints (FAS). The 2024 Lectionary booklet does that, in this case, but adds the CW resources.

There is no allowance for “St Peter alone” (CW provisions 29 June, page 91). ANZPB/HKMOA commemorates “St Peter and St Paul”.

Sunday, 21 July (Lectionary page 100) provides CW readings for “NATIONAL BIBLE SUNDAY”. Our agreed readings for that Sunday are those of the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Using the CW readings seems to me to be a breach of our agreements? By all means, sing, pray, and preach about the Bible on 21 July, but if you cannot do that along with our three agreed Bible readings and Psalm, there seems to me something seriously lacking in the formation of your community and your leadership. Furthermore, we have a formulary (ANZPB/HKMOA pages 616-617) with the theme of “The Holy Bible”.

With RCL’s provision and two other sets of readings in ANZPB/HKMOA page 671 for All Saints’ Day, I don’ t know that there is justification to add CW’s into the Lectionary booklet on page 134. To be fair – the fewer presenting of CW in 2024 Lectionary booklet is a good improvement on the 15 or so unjustified uses in 2020.

Other issues of the Anglican Church of Or continue.
November 21 (Lectionary page 134) can be:
Christ the King Sunday
or The Reign of Christ Sunday
or 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
or Proper 29 (a title that had been dropped in 2021 for this Sunday, but restored in 2023!)
or Aotearoa Sunday
or Feast of Christ in All Creation
or, of course, A Spring Festival of Praise to the Creator (see page 164).

The assertion that

The period between All Saints’ Day and the 1st Sunday of Advent is observed as a time to celebrate and reflect upon the reign of Christ in earth and heaven.

NZ Lectionary booklet 2024 page 134

is a novelty introduced in the NZ Lectionary booklet in 2023. Again, there is no agreement in our church to that effect, it is another obsequious looking to mummy CofE, literally lifted from its Common Worship: Daily Prayer, p. xx! Finally, one can strongly say that every service can have a dynamic of celebrating and reflecting upon the reign of Christ in earth and heaven!

Are there any things you notice as you skim through the lectionary booklet for 2024 – things you like; things you think can be improved?

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