Friday, September 26, 2008

Plain speaking from the Nelson Synod

Our church through its General Synod is seeking agreement from the Diocesan Synods for alternative eucharistic prayers to those currently embedded in our 1989 prayer book.

In some instances the changes are to be applauded because they standardise versicles and responses in the eucharistic prayers making it easier for the congregation to participate from memory rather than with heads buried in books.

But there is a discernible trend through the alternatives to downplay talk of sin, sacrifice and redemption in our eucharistic prayers.

The nadir (of this feature of these alternatives) is what is proposed to the prayer known as Celebrating the Grace of God (p. 436), widely appreciated in our church as a eucharistic prayer in close harmony with Anglican evangelical theology. In the proposed alternative the following 'key' phrases are omitted:

'not for any merit of our own'

'We were bound in sin but in your compassion you redeemed us, reconciling us to yourself with the precious blood of Christ.'

The nadir of the prayers as a whole are the introduction of two prayers 'for use with children'. The first of these offers banal repetition and address of God "... you, God", barely offers a theology of salvation, and scandalously leads children to think that at the Last Supper Jesus said, 'Do this and know that I am with you.'

Yes, there is debate about what Jesus said, because there are variations in the way the gospels and 1 Corinthians 11 hand down the institution narrative to us. But Jesus did not say those words, and to enshrine such licence in a formulary of the church is to open the doors to a rather large wedge in which the church presumes to rewrite Scripture as it sees fit.

Anyway our Synod has booted these prayers to touch. Hopefully a majority of other Synods will do likewise!

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