A Reading for Holy Week

Today the House of Deputies considered Resolution A067: Revise Book of Common Prayer for Revised Common Lectionary [second reading].  Those of you who know me are probably not surprised to hear that I am not in favor of these revisions.  For the reasons listed below as well as issues with the psalms I spoke in opposition to the resolution.  Here is what I said:

IMG_1517Madame President, I rise in opposition to this resolution.
While the effort to conform our lections to that of the wider Christian community is a noble one, this process presents a problem to the wider continuity of our Holy Week liturgies.  First these lessons shift our traditional Anglican understanding of Holy Week, as some of the other communities using the RCL understand this important week differently than we do.  Secondly changing the lessons creates inconsistencies in the liturgies themselves.  By shifting the lessons we loose the continuity of the collect of the day and the readings.  It creates liturgies that are disjointed and confusing.
Another issue with these revisions is in regards to the gospel for Maundy Thursday.  The RCL lectionary removes the possibility of commemorating the first celebration of the Eucharist and only recognizes the foot washing – a ritual not every Episcopal congregation participates in.
We are looking at altering our most holy and sacred time in the life of the Church.  This is not something that should be taken lightly or done solely for the purpose of Unity.  If we dare to change these historic recovered liturgies we need to look at the whole of the liturgies not just the lesson.
I hope my fellow members of this house will keep in mind our unique Anglican ethos and identity as we consider a major change in these most solemn and holy occasions of our life together.
Because this was the second reading of a revision to the Book of Common Prayer (changing the lessons listed within the actual liturgies not just in the lectionary pages in the back of the book) it required a vote by orders.  As our deputation chair had taken the afternoon off I was serving as the acting chair.  While the Rhode Island deputation voted against the resolution, the resolution ultimately passed but by a smaller margin than I had anticipated.  In fact, the people who voted against this resolution out numbered those who voted against marriage equality.
IMG_1521
Think about that, more people voted against changing the lesson for Holy Week than those who voted against marriage equality – that says something pretty powerful about the state of The Episcopal Church.

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