Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Ash Wednesday – Triumph Beyond the Wilderness by the Revd Canon Dr Makhosi Nzimande

Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season will soon be upon us. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent. Customarily, the journey of Lent commences with the placing of blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshippers on Ash Wednesday as a reminder of their mortality and the need for penitence. As early Christian sources attest, ashes were always associated with humility, fasting and remorse. Sinners who sought to repent of their sins covered themselves with sack cloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads as a sign of sorrow and repentance. At the heart of Lent is our focus on the battle that our Lord Jesus Christ waged against sin and Satan in order to win for us our salvation.

Lent under Southern skies demands committing to and engendering a sense of advocacy and mispat (justice). As we withdraw with Christ into the wilderness, like him to be tried and tempted, we draw strength from extending our imagination beyond the wilderness itself to the renewal and transformation that the victory of Christ over temptation and death brings us on resurrection morning. Our challenge is to extend ourselves beyond the confines of the familiar and comfortable spaces we find ourselves in. The wilderness, with all its threats, uncertainties and pain reminds us about the need to grant the voicelessChrist-like inclusion.

Inevitably, Lent under Southern skies  nudges us to pay an even closer attention to some of the challenges prevalent in our African contexts: racism, sexism, neo-liberalism, homophobia, climate change, drought, global terrorism, socio-political unrest, etc. We are called to shift from abstract theologizing to praxis, ensuring that the downtrodden are treated humanely and justly, thus imitating Christ.

Lent challenges us specifically to reconsider the Latin adage: Lex orandi est lex credendi (the rule of prayer is the rule of belief) and ask ourselves how liturgical theology shapes our faith in postcolonial ecclesiastical contexts like ours.For early Christians, Lent was a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for the Paschal Feast. Likewise with remorse, we are to engage in introspection, penitence and fasting for the many ways in which we have practised the politics of exclusion.

As we journey with our Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness this Lenten season, let us re-examine the Missio Dei (the Mission to which God calls us) in our broken world with renewed assurance that the risen Christ who makes all things new seeks to restore and grant our broken world hope and triumph beyond the wilderness.

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Enriching our celebration of Advent by Andy Kruger

By the advent of his light, he scattered the darkness of this world
and in himself has revealed to us the way of truth, by which we may walk towards the blessedness of eternal life.

Proper preface for the first Tuesday of Advent from the Ambrosian liturgy.

You will hopefully be reading this just before, or perhaps during, Advent 2015. Given the context, this communique will explore some of the ways in which the Revision of the Prayer Book offers opportunities for us to enrich our celebration of Advent.

Our first challenge is how to adapt the Season to our Southern climate. The imagery of Advent, with all the references to light in the midst of darkness, lends itself to the bleak midwinter of our brothers and sisters in the Northern Hemisphere. Constructing Advent wreaths complete with evergreen foliage makes little sense to us who are in the blaze of summer. A better idea might be construct Advent candles in the shape of the Southern Cross constellation and develop more authentically Southern liturgies around that motif.

The second challenge is to find our African voice as we prepare both to welcome the Christ child again and ready ourselves for the second coming of our Saviour. An essential part of the revision process must involve a conversation about the interface between Christianity and indigenous cultures. Advent encourages us to investigate indigenous rites pertaining to the preparation for childbirth. Could these rites enrich celebrations or does the coming of Christ challenge these rites?

The third challenge invites us to update our liturgical theology to be congruent with that of the Anglican Communion. During Advent this might mean ensuring that the themes of hope and expectation are emphasised over self-examination and abstinence. Some members of Communion have adopted blue (which is the colour of Mary) as the liturgical colour for Advent so as to make it distinct from Lent.

If you have comments or ideas to contribute to the Revision process, or if you have written locally inspired hymns or songs please do be in touch with us at

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Seven Frequently Asked Questions about Celebrating Sunday

Revising APB 1989 – Update #12
A Prayer Book for Southern Africa
Tomorrow – Today
Under Southern Skies – In an African Voice

Celebrating Sunday

Seven Frequently Asked Questions about Celebrating Sunday

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

The Paschal Mystery by Bruce Jenneker

Celebrating the Life-Death-Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The life of faith and its vocabulary offer many challenges to those of us who speak English, in addition to seeking to find an African Voice – Under Southern Skies. To name the season penitential preparation for Easter we are stuck with Lent, the Anglo-Saxon word for Spring. Even more challenging is our name for the Festival of our Lord’s Resurrection, Easter which comes form Ēostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn who was especially worshipped in the Spring. Those among us who speak other languages than English are liberated by their mother tongues from this dilemma, since most of the terms used for Lent refer to the time of fasting, and most of the names for Easter derive from the Hebrew name of the Jewish Passover, Pascha.

By the term Paschal Mystery we refer to the complete and integral unity of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and their significance for our salvation. The adjective paschal derives from the Hebrew verb pasach, which means ‘to pass over,’ and alludes to rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt in the time of Moses, when the Lord ‘passed over’ their houses and saved them from the wrath of God that was visited upon the Egyptians [Exodus 12:23].

What we observe in Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Day and on all the Sundays of Easter, is this wholeness of our salvation. We celebrate as a single saving unity, the life, teaching and miracles of Jesus, together with the agony of his passion, his sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over death and his resurrection. For us, the death and resurrection of Jesus form the continuation and climax of the Paschal Mystery that is the plan of God’s salvation for all creation, revealed first in the Passover of Israel.

It is significant that the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus occurred during the feast of Passover in the Jewish calendar. Whether the Last Supper was an official Passover meal has often been debated among biblical scholars. But there can be no doubt that the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion was a meal in the spirit of Passover. It provided Jesus with the opportunity to foreshadow and interpret his approaching death on the cross.

Laying hold of the power of this interpretation of his death by Jesus himself, the earliest Christians looked to the traditional Jewish Passover celebration to understand it more fully. They came to recognise Jesus as the Lamb of God, the ultimate, once-and-for-all sacrifice for us and for our sins. In this way the early Church found in the death of Jesus on the cross not a defeat or the end of the Jesus movement, but rather the one complete and perfect sacrifice for sin freely offered by the Only-begotten, the Beloved and Chosen One.

We contemplate the sacrificial death of our Lord as those who know already the triumph that will overturn it; our celebration of our Lord’s resurrection is informed by the ransom for our sins paid for us by his agony and death on the cross.

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Keeping Lent in Autumn by Bruce Jenneker

The word Lent reminds us that Christianity began in the Northern Hemisphere. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for Spring, Lenthen. In the Northern Hemisphere Spring coincides with the forty days of Lenten preparation for Easter. For us who live in the Southern Hemisphere, Lent heralds the beginning of Autumn. With it comes the rich harvest of grapes and the beginning of the winemaking process.

The fruits are at their ripest, it is a season . . .
‘of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.’

from To Autumn, John Keats

Autumn is a complex season, with many layers of meaning: it is the fulfilment of the promise of Spring and the harvest of the Summer sun; it is also the season that ushers in the death of year, when Winter will reign. All is pared down; the leaves fall. Yet in the Autumn stillness the seeds that will flourish and blossom in the Spring begin their slow growth. Nature concentrates her energies to ensure that life will be renewed when the globe turns once more towards the sun.

Lent like Autumn is the season of fulfilment and harvest, time of the falling off of things and their death, time also of the beginning of the process of triumphal rebirth and renewal of life. Lent is a time to observe nature, and to move into alignment with it. Everything around us is golden and rich and full: so we take stock of the fullness of life with which we have been blessed, filled with all the fullness of God. But just as in Autumn the world is slowing dying, so in Lent we contemplate the dryness and death that stalks our spirituality, naming our sins and failures, contrasting the harvest of Gods blessings with our often dry and barren spirits.

And as the beginning of new life phoenix-like is burgeoning in the dying world around us, so in Lent we claim with confidence the promise of salvation and new life that is already laying hold of us.

The Weekdays of Lent are a pilgrimage of self-examination and Bible Study, repentance and acts of loving-kindness. This pilgrimage of is punctuated by the celebration of Sundays in Lent when the promise salvation and new life is proclaimed with joyful expectation.

Liturgical Committee News Provincial Notices Under Southern Skies

Celebrating Epiphany With Celebrating Sunday

The Liturgical Committee’s notes on using Celebrating Sunday at Epiphany.

96_1_09_55_22_PM_Prayer Book Revision Update _10 [Formatted](1)

Liturgical Committee News Provincial Notices Under Southern Skies

Using Celebrating Sunday in Advent

Download the PDF from the link below to read Update No. 9 on the Prayer Book revision process from the Liturgical Committee.

The notes were prepared by the Reverend Andy Kruger, former member of the Prayer Book Revision Sub-Committee and the Prayer Book Revision Secretariat, now the Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Cranford, New Jersey.

95_1_11_02_08_PM_Prayer Book Revision Update _9 Nov 2016

Liturgical Committee News Provincial Notices Under Southern Skies

What happened to the Prayer of Humble Access?

Download the attached PDF to read the update from the Liturgical Committee on the development of the Prayer of Humble Access.

94_2_10_32_29_AM_Prayer Book Revision Update 8 Nov 2016(1)

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Update on Prayer Book Revision Process May 2016

The ACSA Liturgical Committee and its Sub-Committees on Lectionary and on Prayer Book Revision met from Friday 6 May to Saturday 14 May.

Tables and Collects for Revised Common Lectionary

The Tables and Collects for the entire three-year RCL cycle were carefully reviewed and edited. This means that we now have a completed Source Book for the Readings and Collects for all the Sundays and Feastdays in the three-year cycle. We will still need to produce an annual ACSA Lectionary, taking account of the date of Easter Day – in order to calculate the correct number of Sundays in the Season after the Epiphany and the Season after Pentecost. A printed edition of the full three-year cycle will be given to the Bishops when they meet in September.

A ‘New’ Prayer Book

Several members reported that there is a widespread expectation that a ‘new’ Prayer Book is being produced and will be available in the very near future. We are calling upon Diocesan Liturgical Committees, Diocesan Link Representatives and Link Persons to help correct this misunderstanding. We are involved in a process of revising APB 1989 – a process that will take many years. During those years we will be producing several supplemental liturgical resources authorised for experimental, trial use. These supplemental resources will be the result of a process of wide consultation among the people of ACSA and reflect the styles of worship common to our Church. Unfortunately, given the resources at our disposal, Celebrating Sunday will only appear in English at this time. As soon as the Translation Committees complete their work, it will become available in the languages of ACSA.

Celebrating Sunday

Celebrating Sunday, the first of these occasional publications, will be launched at Provincial Synod in September 2016. It will include seasonal resources for Celebrating Sunday: Under Southern Skies – In an African Voice during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, Lent and Eastertide.

Holy Eucharist on Sunday [Principal Service]

Service of the Word on Sunday [as the Principal Service when Holy Communion is not offered]

An Order of Worship for Sunday Evening [a seasonal alternative to APB Evening Prayer]

Celebrating Sunday will provide the Shape and Structure of these services as well materials for each of their sections.

Because Night Prayer [Compline] has become a regular feature of worship in ACSA, materials for praying this Office will also be included.

Several Thought-pieces offering explanations and reflections will be included: Introductions to the Seasons, Commentaries and Additional Directions, etc.

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

Losing Advent – Ignoring Epiphany by Keith Griffiths

Losing Advent – Ignoring Epiphany

Over the years Advent, Christmas and Epiphany have undergone seismic shifts. It is not just the commercial world starting to advertise Christmas in September that has led to the disappearance of Advent, but also the traditions inherited from the northern hemisphere that have impacted on the flow of the Incarnation Cycle.

It might make sense to encourage schools to present Nativity plays and Carol services when the term ends around 20th December, but it is quite something else when these are included in the calendar during November. The significance of such services in a local church is lost when it is the fourth such event for the children, and when the service of Carols and Lessons is presented on the Second Sunday in Advent, then followed by Carols by the Lake or similar community presentations.

Paula Gooder entitles her reflections on Advent; The Meaning is in the Waiting. Sadly, waiting is alien to our modern lifestyle that seeks instant gratification. Starting Christmas prematurely glosses over the essential nature of the first two Sundays of Advent when the focus is on the Lord who will come again in glory.

The Feast of Epiphany vanishes in the aftermath of the extended celebration of the month of Christmas which exhausts those who have the responsibility not just for the services of the church but also the extraneous occasions when civic organisations seek a minister.  This robs us of a vital reminder that Jesus did not come for the sake of the Church, but because God so loved the world. The Magi were not the lost sheep of Israel, but leaders from beyond Judaism who came in search of the One who came for the salvation of all people. The Feast of the Epiphany is a reminder that now the Church has the responsibility to carry that message of Gods love to all nations.

The final celebration in the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle is the Feast of the Presentation on 2 February, forty days after 25 December. According to the Law, the firstborn son is presented in the Temple and dedicated to God in memory of the deliverance from Egypt. Jesus is redeemed by the offering of two pigeons, a concession to poor families who could not afford a sheep.

To lose Advent and to ignore Epiphany is to retreat into a pale celebration of the Incarnation without the responsibility to follow Jesus into the world where God is still at work today.

If you have comments or ideas to contribute to the Revision process, or if you have written locally inspired hymns or songs please do be in touch with us at

This is the third of a series of Updates on the Revision Process that will appear on this website on the first of  every month. Expect the next one on January 2016

Liturgical Committee News Under Southern Skies

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step by Bruce Jenneker

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

This trustworthy wisdom from the ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu [6th century BCE] is very good counsel as we proceed with the enormous, exciting and essential task of revising An Anglican Prayer Book 1989.

It has always been an axiom of Anglican liturgical theology that we have one Prayer Book, and one Prayer Book only. The very first Prayer Book [Book of Common Prayer 1549, revised 1552] lives on in each revision, serving to unite the Anglican Church in one single act of worship in every time and every place. While it was Henry VIIIs tyrannical intention to impose an unswerving uniformity upon his Church that gave birth to this commitment, it was the irenic wisdom of Elizabeth I and her advisors to move gently with the enforcement of uniformity [Book of Common Prayer 1559] which gave rise during the Carolingian period – the reigns of Charles I [1625-1649] and Charles II [1660-1685] – to The Book of Common Prayer 1662. That Prayer Book has remained a primary source – along with those of 1549 and 1552 – for Anglican liturgical practice as it has been revised and renewed down the centuries. In this way the tradition of Anglican liturgical prayer has remained shaped and informed by our early origins, and this remain so today still.

The Preface to The Book of Common Prayer 1662 begins with an explicit statement of the process of liturgical revision and reformation, that with regard to the particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent, and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable, that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such Changes and Alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of Authority should from time to time seem either necessary or expedient.

In this venerable tradition that is simultaneously conservative and innovative, the development of the Prayer Book continues as we in ACSA share in the work of discovering together what it could mean for us to worship in ways that are faithful to our Anglican heritage and yet are authentic expressions of our experience Under Southern Skies articulated in An African Voice.

This is the first of a series of Updates on the Revision Process that will appear on this website on the first of every month. Expect the next one on November 15, 2015