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Pouhere Sunday

Te Pouhere Sunday

Pouhere Sunday

You know those exam questions that have a statement, and then just add, “Discuss”. This post could be thought of like that (I suppose all posts here could be thought of like that).

The dynamic (I’m choosing that word on purpose) of the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary, of the Church Year, of the Bible actually, is that it tells stories of our God who acts. We celebrate the great acts of God. That’s also a rediscovery in the renewed Eucharistic Prayers – we proclaim together the mighty acts of God.

NZ Anglicans tried for a while using a themed, home-grown, 2-year Sunday lectionary. You can imagine why year after year of “Our lives”, “Our homes”, “Our neighbours”, “Our country” wore pretty thin, with readings chosen from a fat, black, floppy, Bible concordance…

Trinity Sunday sticks out in the Church Year. Rather than being the story of an acting God, it is the celebration of a doctrine…

And a week later many Anglicans in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia celebrate Te Pouhere Sunday. Te Pouhere is our church’s constitution. Not the celebration of our God who acts. Not even the celebration of a core doctrine. This is an annual Sunday devoted to our church’s constitution – complete with (unchanging) propers (readings, collect,…).

I have no issue with focusing on particular things on a Sunday: Refugee Sunday, AAW Sunday, Vocations Sunday,… but I really struggle to see why you would abandon our agreement to share in the international, ecumenical readings, and tie everything so constrictingly up with a tight bow by changing the readings to restrain to the tight theme as well.

If you follow RCL for this Sunday you will have
Gen 21:8-21 with Isaac and Ishmael playing together (Te Pouhere)
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 nations together (Te Pouhere)
If you cannot add Te Pouhere into a service through a hymn, or the prayers, or the sermon and use the readings of RCL then you should not hold responsibility for Christian worship leadership.


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11 thoughts on “Te Pouhere Sunday”

  1. Peter Carrell

    Some of us celebrate the Trinity as the God who acts, who as Father Son and Holy Spirit eternally is bound as One in love and through love acts to create, redeem, and give life.

    However I shall give consideration to celebrating Trinity as ‘doctrine’ 🙂

  2. Peter Carrell

    It was very difficult not to become modalist once I started that comment, Bosco! All my training in orthodoxy had to be brought bear to avoid the fires which await heretics.

  3. My first experience of Te Pouhere Sunday was very important to me. Our family had been worshiping in the Catholic Church for the previous 12 years, where I was ineligible to receive communion. For a number of reasons, we decided to move to the Anglican Church.
    That Sunday, our vicar actually read the preamble to the Constitution. “Oh my God, this is going to be tediously boring” I thought when he started. But actually it gives the fascinating story of the development and growth of the church. One we need to be reminded of.
    And as he got to towards the end of it, there was the 1967 Act of Commitment, including the Congregational Union. That was the church I had grown up in as a child.
    Suddenly I realised I was home.

    (Sorry I can’t comment on the readings – one of those things as a ‘foster child of Anglicanism’ that I don’t really get)


    1. Thanks, David, for your story. I hope my point is clear: your vicar’s reading of the preamble to the Constitution was not dependent on the readings that you cannot comment on. He could just as easily have read the preamble to the Constitution as part of the service with the readings set for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Blessings.

  4. Adrienne Bruce

    I find your comments short-sighted & arrogant and culturally disrespectful Bosco. Our church has chosen readings for Te Pouhere Sunday and these are accompanied by some very good collects from partners in their own languages. As the only three-Tikanga Church in the Anglican Communion it is our prerogative for one Sunday surely to make choices of readings which reflect this theme of unity in diversity.
    The three Tikanga Church to which we belong is, in my opinion, an act of God. God at work in an act of drawing people together – so aligned to the Gospel.
    I believe it is entirely appropriate to give more than a nod with a hymn or two, or a passing comment in a sermon to this Sunday,especially as we celebrate 25 years as a three Tikanga Church this year.
    Here in the Eastern Bay of Plenty we are gathering for one service in Whakatāne. Joining together will be the people of Te Kaha Rohe, Ōpōtiki Parish, Edgecumbe-Kawerau Parish, Mataatua Rohe and Whakatāne Anglican-Methodist Parish. Our service will reflect three Tikanga in our prayers, in Māori, Samoan and English, and in our hymns and waiata – again from our three partners.

    1. Adrienne, this site is committed to respectful dialogue and eschews ad hominems. Had you called me “short-sighted & arrogant and culturally disrespectful”, that line would have been crossed by you. I leave it to readers here to decide whether your calling my post “short-sighted & arrogant and culturally disrespectful” is justified or not.

      I do find it very concerning that the reaction of a senior priest to a discussion [Rev. Adrienne Bruce is a Regional Dean – overseeing one of three subdivisions of the Waiapu Diocese] is to begin disagreement with terms such as “short-sighted & arrogant and culturally disrespectful”.

      Let’s just deal with the suggestion of my being culturally disrespectful. Every service I lead includes Te Reo, and our services will use the Te Reo Te Inoi a te Ariki every week. Waiata are a normal part of services, and we are looking forward to the Mihi Whakatau for a newly commissioned waiata as a taonga. Last week, during Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa – Sāmoan Language Week, a priest from Samoa spoke and gifted us with a Samoan-language Bible which we will use in services. We have an ongoing relationship of service and sharing resources with his community.

      Now we get to the straw man you turned my post into, Adrienne. Nowhere did I suggest we have “a nod with a hymn or two, or a passing comment in a sermon”.

      People do not find the resources for Te Pouhere Sunday easy to find on our Church website. Furthermore, the propers are, in fact, incomplete – several people have already been in touch with me wondering what psalm to use when following those propers.

      What I in fact proposed was the opposite of the tokenism you accuse me of. I am suggesting people stay with our ecumenically-internationally-agreed readings and find the three-tikanga, unity-in-diversity truth not just in specially selected readings, but in the very fabric of the scriptures. With that, of course, we are free, as you well know, to choose any collect (so we could use one of the ones you are so enthusiastic about but which are, as I have pointed out, difficult/impossible to find online). The sermon can focus on God’s action in our three-tikanga history; and hymns, songs, and prayers (and the sermon) can be in the variety of languages of our South Pacific.

      It is my right to advocate for this approach as what I describe fits with the formularies of our Church which you and I both sign up to. If you hold that this approach is “short-sighted & arrogant and culturally disrespectful”, you need to follow your convictions with some genuine action and seek, through General Synod Te Hinota Whanui, the removal of the right to use the RCL readings on the Second Sunday after Pentecost (just as we do not have the right to use the RCL readings that Trinity Sunday displaces).


  5. Elizabeth Snowsill

    Adrienne’s comments are helpful and affirming for those of us whose who seek to honour our three tikanga church in the manner that was intended. I have had no trouble accessing the on-line resources and am grateful for the rich interweaving of these into the appropriate liturgy. The NZ lectionary is a valuable tool for worship in this province and here in the Wairarapa I appreciate the insights we receive in using it.

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