Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chloe's Pink Slippers Are Very Fluffy (2 of 3)

In 1998 I voted at General Synod for flexibility in the use of our church's authorised services of worship, to include the possibility of services prepared with minimal reference to written authorised prayers of our church (providing nevertheless that conformity to our doctrine was maintained).

In doing so I and others did not realise that we were going to end up with Chloe's pink fluffy slippers, as adroitly described by +John Bluck

But I think we knew that we were looking for canonical blessing of considerable liturgical diversity because that already existed, both within evangelical havens such as the Diocese of Nelson and in other circles, including experiences of worship at General Synod or the Inter Diocesan Conference itself!

Would I do the same today?

To give an answer to that question which is as simple and as clear as I can make it, I need first to take you (briefly) on a corporate and personal history.

The corporate history is outlined by various posts @ Liturgy (most recently here). In sum, after 1998 GS embarked on further loosening of the canons governing liturgy with one slight sign of regret when it passed a resolution about the so called Template designed to tell free-for-all liturgists that they didn't mean for the Template to be as unbounded as it looked. (With that resolution (IMHO) GS effectively gutted the Template of its substance as a vehicle for wide-ranging flexibility in worshop. The Template now authorised flexibility that could not go beyond what was already in the prayer book!) In short, through these decisions we are now in rather a messy situation. So messy that the attempt of GS 2014 to try to tidy up a small aspect of the mess is being resisted!

From being the Vicar of the Parish of Blenheim South, my personal history was that I went in 2001 to become ministry educator for the Diocese of Nelson and then in 2010 to a similar role here in the Diocese of Christchurch. Through some of that period I have simultaneously been part time Priest in Charge of parishes. That's nearly fourteen years of training lay and ordained people in leadership of worship, of visiting many parishes in the central and upper two-thirds of the South Island and generally engaging in formal and informal conversations about Anglican worship as well as in occasional and regular bursts of leading worship.

I have learned a thing or two these last fourteen years! In particular from Bosco Peters, both through reading Liturgy, engaging with comments here and there and through personal conversation. In particular I have learned the importance of common prayer, the prayer we pray together because we have agreed that this (i.e. the Book of Common Prayer and A New Zealand Prayer Book) will be our prayer - an agreement reached through our synodical processes and renewed each time lay and clerical ministers accept a licence from their bishop.

But I also learned that our Prayer Book (1989), without any further subsequent decisions by General Synod, has for the adept and skilful liturgist, considerable flexibility. The clue lies in the rubrical word 'may'. Every 'may' means you can omit that bit, thus freeing the service to incorporate other freely chosen aspects of worship (e.g. drama, additional music, testimony).

If that was all to consider, my answer would be ...

No, I would not agree again to changing the rubrics on p. 511 of NZPB. If I could go back to 1998 I would vote against the change I agreed to, supposing the above liturgical considerations were all that mattered.

Further, I would vote for the Template to be removed from our books, I would not agree to the use of eucharistic prayers from other churches of the Anglican Communion (no doubt fine, but why did we spend 25 years+ composing our own?) and I would generally embark on revision of the various prayers we have agreed to, in order to pare us back to greater commonality in our prayer together. (I would not, however, agree to there being one single communion service. A little diversity is good.)

But that is not all to consider, so my answer is ... 

My own liturgical journey, however, has simultaneously been a journey with a church encountering changing contexts. Our great Western and our local Kiwi culture has not stood still these last twenty-five years since the publication of NZPB in 1989. A number of important features of congregational life are now different. Changes in culture and in language mean that the missional and generational challenges for the conducting of liturgy are different. The decisions by GS over these years to offer more diversity of approved prayers and greater flexibility have been an attempt to engage with the changing world in which the church lives.

But significant questions buzz round my mind concerning the present and future of our Anglican church in 21st century Aotearoa NZ.

My third post in the series will continue towards my answer to the question I have posed.


liturgy said...

I am honoured and humbled, Peter, to be mentioned in this way on your site.

I think you are right to understand our history, and then to move forward, rather than backwards trying to 'undo' what we have since seen was unhelpful; creating a new container, rather than attempting to squeeze it back into the old one; realising how much we have in common that can be nourished by common prayer, and allowing for local flexibility so that the local common prayer is appropriate to the context rather than everywhere appearing as clones.

I look forward very much to your part 3.



Bryden Black said...

My tuppence worth Peter is this - from one who has enjoyed worshiping in four Anglican jurisdictions ever since Series 2 ‘trial liturgies’ were foisted upon “Common Prayer”.

If we are a People who:
1. reckon our confessional identity resides in Common Prayer;
2. are driven by context - with its ever varied nature(s);
3. then we are on a hiding to nowhere ...

This conclusion is itself driven by a context, one where pluralism, as an ideological doctrine, is pursued either implicitly or explicitly.

Until therefore we seek a confessional identity derived from a rather different calculus, we shall experience the sorts of ribald confusion you describe. Historical theology is ripe with illustrations which demonstrate both capitulations to the prevailing context and careful, creative surmounting of old ways. The question becomes one therefore of both wit and courage: can we summon either or both; or shall we continue to muddle our way into a plethora of identities, which become only increasingly unrecognizable to each other?

carl jacobs said...

OK. So ... ummmm ... I have to ask because I am not getting it and Google hasn't been much help.

Who is Chloe and why does she have pink fluffy slippers?


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Stacey - I couldn't have answered Carl's question better myself!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
Are you talking about the Affirmation of Faith for the p. 476 service?


Simon said...


A few observations from a Pom now serving in ACANZP.
• It seems to me that the C of E has been more adventurous and creative than our Church in its liturgical revision, not least as it produced the Common Worship liturgical material, from 1999 onwards. For example, a gem is the resource 'New Patterns for Worship', where I sometimes source opening prayers, alternative confessions, intercessions, post-communion prayers etc from. Our 1989 prayer book is admirable, but it is a piece of work of particular era. Compared to Common Worship, for example, the seasonal provision in the NZPB is poor, and Common Worship Daily Prayer, itself an adaptation of Br Tristam Holland’s (SSF) pioneering ‘Celebrating Common Prayer’, is a rich and user-friendly resource.
• I am not convinced that our ordinands and those being trained for ordination, on whichever ‘pathway’ in our Pakeha dioceses, are learning anything substantial or significant about liturgy and Christian worship. I was fortunate to be taught at Trinity College Bristol by Dr Paul Roberts, whose mission continues to be to make liturgy ‘live’ for evangelical ordinands. What he taught has stuck and has informed a couple of generations of curates, some who have gone onto senior positions in the C of E and elsewhere. Paul was taught and supervised by Kenneth Stevenson and Colin Buchanan - two liturgists of different backgrounds with some considerable Anglican mana. I’m not sure we see those sorts of gifts being released in our Church today.
• In some NZ Anglican evangelical churches I know, worshippers stand and stare at the screen with bored expressions during even the shortest alternative Great Thanksgiving. That doesn’t mean the clergy presiding are either bored or not working hard to engage them in ‘the mystery of faith’. It’s because many of them are transferees from evangelical, Baptist and other reformed/Pentecostal churches with very little understanding of the place of liturgical worship and no sense of our Anglican heritage of Common Prayer. We are now in an age where we have to work harder than ever before to educate people about what common prayer is, and to seek to convince them of its value for us as Anglican Christians. I tend to hand out a good book by another evangelical Anglican liturgist Mark Earey ‘Liturgical Worship: a fresh look. (How it works and why it matters)’.

All this does not mean that our only recourse is to cave in and go for the sickly fizzy fluffy ‘LCD’ of Chloe’s pink slippers, but it does mean we have a huge amount of work to do, not least in teaching - particularly evangelical congregations in our dioceses - about Common Prayer and the rich resources of the Anglican worshipping tradition.
PS: Interesting that it was the rhythm and habits of Anglican Daily Prayer that won the evangelical Urban Vision movement of +Justin Duckworth into the Anglican ‘team’ a decade ago.

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent comment, Simon. It will help me with my next post. Thanks!

Eric said...

Briefly I'd say thrice Anen to Fr. Simons comments (must own up to be from the same Anglo-Trinity-Robertian stock.

My reflection FWIW is that I've never before met such an anthropocentric church - expressed in many and diverse ways. Simons comments re evangelicals and liturgy, are the flip side of the coin from the same-sex marriage thing, and (this being a three-sided coin :-) ), 'spirituality'.

To misquote but only literally 'it's all about me, Jesus'

I must admit, I'm disengaging from all this stuff as far as possible, because I think there is a question, foundational to our plight which isn't on our radar, but without an understanding of, we shall float off on a million individual wakas, which is 'What is the church?'
(Of course, any half awake theolog will respond, there is a deeper question, 'who is Jesus Christ?', but to my mind these two are indissolubly linked.

Thanks for hosting my rant, Peter



Peter Carrell said...

It is a very thoughtful rant, Eric!

Bryden Black said...

I see Eric and I on this one are in substantial agreement. A plethora of identities generated by pluralism is all about me, me & me. While the simple fact of incorporation into that historic, even cosmic Communion called Church, is off the radar.

(Ps: how often are modern songs in the first person plural? And how often the singular ...?!)

liturgy said...

I too want to thank you, Simon (and those who echo you), for your points, expressing what I have so often said. In my comment to Chloe’s slippers (Part 1) I already questioned having the words of the Great Thanksgiving before us as assembly. I’m trying to visualise “transferees from evangelical, Baptist and other reformed/Pentecostal churches” if the worship leader prays extemporarily for someone, or grace before a meal, or for a situation of interest to all – and the picture I have is of the assembly intently and intentionally making the words of that leader their own prayer. If that is not what is happening when the same worship leader proclaims the Great Thanksgiving then we are doing it wrong. We so often seem unable to make liturgy into worship – that is about poor formation, of clergy and assembly. When we get to liturgy we seem to too-easily turn it into arcane priestcraft, empty ritual, a spectator activity of magic being performed solely because “that is what we have to do” even when we really do not know why.



Jean said...

Peter I agree with what you say in the post, and Bosco's interpretation adds context which makes total sense to me.

Re evangelicals staring blankly at screens during the great thanksgiving, well..... I wish I could claim I pay attention to the liturgy (words) myself everytime the Eucharist is celebrated, however, in honesty many times I find myself drifting off, repeating from rote or wondering how long until it is finished - whether staring at a screen, a book or simply using my memory. I have also had times when I have been fully engaged. Perhaps this is human?

In terms liturgical form I am happy to leave those decisions to the powers that be so long as they stay in line with scripture, or as Bryden insinuates are driven not primarily by cultural context but by our worship of Christ as understood yesterday and today - as Bosco points out there are many options for including aspects into a service relevant to congregations such as personal testimonies. The English alternatives sound interesting.

Sorry Bryden I would have to disagree with you with the me, me, me of modern worship. I do acknowledge and recognise the movement towards the 'me' 'I' culture across many society but from my experience I haven't found this bias with those christian songs most popular now or previously (of course there is a 'singular' and 'plural' such as we have both a personal relationship with Jesus, and a shared communual connection as the body of christ as we worship.

Just a brief flick into my memory banks:
Lord we come before your throne of grace... (modern)
Be Thou my Vision oh Lord of my life (hymn & modern)
Women of Faith, sing with broken hearts (modern).
Shout to The Lord all the Earth.... (modern)
It shall be well with my soul ... (hymn)
Lord I bring you more than a song for a song... (modern)
Oh Lord my God when I in Awesome wonder.. (hymn)
Did you feel the mountains tremble when all the saints cried in one voice? (modern)
When I survey the Wonderous Cross on which the... (hymn)

etc... etc... etc...

Blessings Jean

Jean said...

Oh Bosco, your comment on making liturgy into worship as it intended I think is I is an engaging topic and worthy of reflection.