What are we saying?

Scottish Prayer book_1912“Someone new has joined our congregation. She works shifts so can only come to our midweek mass so we’ve enjoyed getting to know her over coffee after the service. A few days ago she spoke to me about another church she’d visited nearby for their midweek service. She was checking out other churches in case she has to miss a Thursday. This other church was rejoicing that they’d had the covers of their Prayer Books re-bound. How can someone rejoice in using such an old service,” she asked. “The language was awful, the theology even worse. Do they not know what they’re saying, or do they not care? And how on earth is an ancient service going to attract new and younger members? There was so much of it that I just couldn’t say or believe. ”

And I had to agree with her. We do use the 1970 Liturgy (grey book) here on Sunday mornings at our 9am service. Usually it is one or two older members who attend, but we do have a family who often bring their young boys along before they go off to sport. And we do have some visitors who come on holiday and I often wonder what they make of it. Just a few weeks ago we had some Germans who were walking the John Muir Way who came in and I wondered how easily they could translate some of it. But any time I have suggested moving to the 1982 Liturgy there is a hue and cry.

And I can understand that too. My home church still uses the 1970 Liturgy and it was what I was first introduced to in the Scottish Episcopal Church. I do love some of the poetry of its words, I know it off by heart,  but must confess that the theology of some of it bothers me too. Yes, I know that some people do join the church to hear that kind of old-fashioned language. But whenever someone new comes to church, looking to join, at one of those services I do find myself saying, “This is very traditional language. You might find the later service more modern.” But usually we don’t see them again. 9am suited them. But the language (and perhaps the theology) put them off.

I’d be interested to hear what others have done in this situation. Carried on to please the oldies? Or forced a change upon them? Or alternated week by week?

Inclusive language liturgy

I’m not sure how our Liturgy Committee works. Sometimes when new liturgies are created we discuss it at Area Councils and Synods and argue back and forth for years over the placement of a comma. At other times it seems as if there is no discussions at all – like the reprinting of Daily Prayer and the Scottish Liturgy 1982 with Propers and RCL.  And now we have an inclusive language 1982 liturgy. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Some churches have just gone ahead and done it themselves unofficially. But those of us who like to obey the rules 😉 have been agog with anticipation. There has been no discussion at Synod about this and we are told it is an interim measure as the Liturgy Committee have been instructed to prepare a new Eucharistic Liturgy. I’m not exactly sure what that means but in the meantime we are permitted to make seven changes. They are not online yet so here they are if you are interested.

Page 2 at 5, & page 5 at 15 (Confession)

Current:  God is love and we are his children… We love because he loved us first.

Change: God is love and we are God’s children… We love because God loved us first.

Current: heal and strengthen us by his Spirit

Change:  heal and strengthen us by the Holy Spirit

Page 3 at 11 (Gloria)

Current:  and peace to his people on earth

Change: and peace to God’s people on earth

Page 4 at 13 (Creed)

Current: for us men and for our salvation

Change: for us and for our salvation

Page 6 at 18 (Opening Eucharistic Prayer)

Current:  it is right to give him thanks and praise

Change: it is right to give God thanks and praise

Page 16, 2nd para, 4th line (Eucharistic Prayer IV)

Current:  He renewed the promise of his presence

Change:  Your son, Jesus Christ, renewed the promise of his presence

Page 21 at 23 (Thanksgiving and Sending out)

Current:  Give thanks to the Lord for he is gracious. And his mercy endures for ever.

Change:  Give thanks to our gracious God, whose mercy endures for ever.

Page 21 at 24a (Prayer (a))

Current:  which is your will for all mankind

Change: which is your will for all the world

And that’s it. God is still Father by name so I’m more than a little disappointed. Perhaps that’s still to come…

What do you think?

Teaching Mass

Many years ago I did a series of Teaching Masses in Lent and they were a great success. So many people came up to me after to say that they had learned so much about the liturgy that they’d always wondered about but were too afraid to ask. I suppose we take it for granted that people will have gone through some sort of liturgical education at their Confirmation but of course some haven’t been confirmed, some are from different traditions, some did Confirmation classes over 60 years ago, and liturgy maybe wasn’t on the agenda. I love liturgy. I love the drama and theatre of it. And I love it when a congregations ‘gets it’ and responds enthusiastically.

Our 1982 liturgy may not be perfect (especially regarding inclusive language but let’s hope that is to come) but it also has a lot to redeem it. Today we started with the Preparation to the Collect of the Day. We spoke about preparation before the service begins; the preparation of the stage for the drama of the Eucharist to begin; that ‘Grace and peace to you…’ comes from Paul’s letters and requires an enthusiastic Amen, not a half-hearted one; the Collect for Purity which collects our thoughts; the Summary of the Law which we, at St Mark’s, say during Lent and Advent and was used to educate the masses in the Ten Commandments; the Confession to remember that our little personal stories are part of that larger narrative in which we come from God and go to God, and take up the journey again and again, and then the Absolution (think Prodigal Son and a father running helter skelter to hug his child to bits) and there was a bit of Brief Encounter in there too but you had to be there; the Kyrie as a response to a litany; the Gloria belonging to an ancient collection of non-Scriptural songs called ‘psalmi idiotici‘ (songs of simple people) which is omitted in Lent but sung extremely joyfully on Easter day; and finally the Collect of the Day which we actually say together.

There was even a hesitant round of applause at the end of it!  Of course, in all the excitement I forgot the Confession which we move to the later bit in Lent after the intercessions. Pride comes before a fall, right enough.

Next Sunday is our Family Service so I think we may look at the church building and the signs we make.  Think of it as a liturgical work-out. You might want to practise a few genuflections during the week to get yourself limbered up. No lycra necessary.