In his view the liturgical genie has been let out of the bottle and it isn't going to be shoved back in anytime soon. His wrap up leads me to a first point I want to make in response:
"Nobody knows where all this will take us the Selwyn Lecturer I introduced earlier, Philip Tovey, told us that there is no evidence that being freer or more formal in liturgy makes any difference to church growth, any more than it does being high, low, middle or messy church.
I do know that new and creative liturgy, when it’s done with clumsy words, bad taste and a hectoring tone, can exclude and alienate congregations as surely as the most archaic and irrelevant language.
I do believe our liturgical tradition, and especially our attempts to anchor it in the imagery and experience of Aotearoa, has distilled great wisdom and beauty that we ignore at our peril.
And I long for the day when I can sit in the back row of an Anglican church and worship God with some words and lyrics that evoke rather than instruct, celebrate where I belong, respect all sorts and conditions of fellow pilgrims around me, and just once in a while, leave a little space and silence for the imaginings of my heart and soul that lie beyond words."
I suggest the great question before us is not first of all, Do we want the genie back in the bottle?
The great question is,
What kind of church do we wish to be as we travel into the future?
There is a sharp edgy question trailing in its wake:
Will we exist in the future?
Our church is in dire straits. The overall profile of our congregations is aging and the statistical trend of attendance is downwards. We face the real possibility that a couple of recently departing clergy and congregations will become a significant split if the Way Forward group (post GS 2014, meeting in Auckland today and tomorrow) cannot find a way to keep us together.
There is no guarantee that fifty years hence there will be an Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.
It is not just that the church is always one generation from extinction, it is that we do not know what liturgical road is the highway we should be travelling to the future. From that confusion flows the strong possibility that we will mistakenly pursue pathways which currently look promising but in fact will be dead-ends, because current congregations will eventually die and new attendees will attend other churches.
What +John is describing is a church desperately trying to find that highway to the future. Perhaps it is following NZPB services: many congregations do that. It could be via not following NZPB services, even to the point, as a commenter on the earlier post noted, of a bishop offering his 'own' liturgy: many congregations do this. It could be via offering a menu of diversity each Sunday: many city parishes do this. (But if that is the highway, it is not open to most country parishes).
Out of this desperation to find the way to a healthy future (if not, noting Philip Tovey's observation above, to a growing future), we should be asking questions I am not convinced we are asking of ourselves. 'We' here is 'all of us who love our church'.
Such as: (in no particular order of priority)
What is working and what is not working? (Yes, to be measured by whether congregations are reverse aging and declining trends)
What would be better if we did it better? (I think this question is one of the major underlying drivers for Bosco Peters' posts on our liturgical life on his site Liturgy).
What should we stop doing (because, frankly, it belongs to a former era and has no future)? [My example: using the burse and veil!]
What value should we place on Common Prayer - the prayers we all pray together in every parish and rohe?
What rules and regulations both assist us and agreeably bind us together in one worshipping church?
In respect of the last question, it is a clear inference from +John's post that we collectively do not think much of our rules and regulations in respect of liturgy. We are not keen to see anyone criminalized for growing liturgical weed!
As for the question before that: the +Bluck post bears witness to the readily observable fact that in the age old tension between unity and diversity, we value diversity over unity.
There are a few thoughts for starters. I see Bosco has a post up about Bill 4 ... the fate of which is germane to the issues above.