Beware of Anglican Liturgy

pcwpI’m ordained in the Anglican Church yet have never really used the daily office for my prayers and devotions. Part of the preference was due to the complexity of using Common Worship.  I never really worked out which page to flip to or which year I was in for the bible readings.  However, the Android app PCWP changed that, as it does all the graft for you.   So, I have been using the daily office on and off (more off) for a year or more.

I always use it with caution and here’s and example of the health warning which must be applied from this morning’s office. This is the canticle from Ezekiel’s song:

1 I will take you from the nations, •
and gather you from all the countries.

2 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, •
and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses.

3 A new heart I will give you, •
and put a new spirit within you,

4 And I will remove from your body the heart of stone •
and give you a heart of flesh.

5 You shall be my people, •
and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 36.24-26, 28b

The canticle has five verses, but the bible reference shows that verses 27 and 28a are missing. When I notice this sort of omission I turn to my bible to see what the naughty liturgical committee has cut out and here it is (omissions in bold):

I will take you from the nations
and gather you from all the countries
and bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you,
and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
26 And I will give you a new heart,
and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my Spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes
and be careful to obey my rules.
28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers,

and you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:24-28

Do you notice what different effects reading the two readings, or singing the canticles, have on you as the reader? The first reading from Common Worship omits the purpose of God’s work in his people. The reader is left with the effect of a warm glow of God’s ability to change the hard human heart. Sure, it’s nice to have a new heart of flesh, but what is this new heart for? The full reading of scripture discloses God’s purposes; to turn the hearts of his people from idols and to give them the desire to obey him.

The cumulative effect of this sort of distortion of scripture might explain why our denomination is as it is. People aren’t stupid but we are all shaped by what we read in devotion. If our liturgy shapes us to talk about worshipping the God of love who changes hearts whilst those who read the whole of scripture have a much fuller and rounded view of God (which includes having a heart for God which turns away from the worship of created things and is willing to obey God’s statutes, amongst other aspects of God’s character revealed in scripture but are judicially removed from our liturgy and our diet of bible readings) then of course we’ll be at odds with one another.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
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5 Responses to Beware of Anglican Liturgy

  1. I agree with your analysis. I’m reminded of the old adage about liturgy being a coat hanger to support your worship, not a straight jacket to restrain it. I hope you included the missing verses.

  2. Jim Hignett says:

    I would just stick with the plain words in the Bible.

  3. Ian G says:

    They’ve removed the destination so that there is no future Hope for the Christian or the Jew. They’ve removed the removal of idols and so made it multi-faith which removes the Heart of our faith which is Jesus.
    They’ve removed the Holy Spirit and so removed the Help of the believer as well as putting their own souls in peril.
    Finally, it’s anti-Semitic as well.
    No future, no faith and no fruit. No hope. No faith . No love. It’s a pretty comprehensive attack, but it forms the basis of a good sermon!

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