Episco-Fact #147
July 4, 2019

Francisco-fact: Arrrgh! The new liturgy is hard to get used to saying. What is going on?

It is the guess of the rector that when the Episcopal Church changed from the familiar forms of prayers and liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer 1928 to the forms and liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer 1979, the congregations had the same problem. In fact, the rector knows this is true, given the conversations he had on joining the Episcopal Church in 1987. So, some of our awkwardness is lack of familiarity. That kind of discomfort will go away with time and use.

There is another discomfort. It is the suspicion of the rector that the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music could have used a poet on in its meetings, a poet who understands meter and its rhythmical support of English as a language. It is the languages real poetic form. Hence, awkward phrasing like: "Then, the time came for him to complete upon the cross the sacrifice of his life, and to be glorified by you." It seems to this reader that something is just not quite right with this phrasing.

It also sounds to the hearing of this listener that some of the tripping up of our communal recitation occurs in the Nicene Creed, a piece of the Church's being that is deeply ingrained in us.

In this week's Order of Service, two phrases have been underlined in bold to alert the reader that something is going on that needs to be paid attention to. The first phrase is: "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human." Two theological things have influenced this phrasing. The first having to do with Mary is about making her out to be more than a vessel of the Holy Spirt. The second person of the Trinity's incarnation was a cooperative action of the Holy Spirit and Mary.

The second phrase is: "and became truly human." This, of course, is driven be the sense that saying he became man does not fully capture the use of anthropos in the Greek version of the text. Jesus' anthroposing was because he was a man and in his being a man, bearing the characteristics of humanity in himself.

The Creeds last trip point is about omission: "We believe in the Holy Spirit, . . . who proceeds from the Father (hard stop). The congregation is, of course use to adding, "and the Son." This clause was not in the approved text of the Nicene Creed from either the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) or Constantinople (381 AD). In the early 2000's the General Convention agreed that if a new prayer book was authorized we would conform our Creed to the Creed approved by the councils.

Remember, familiarity will ease the awkwardness and Labor Day will see the church switch back to familiar liturgies.