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"On Track for November"


Today the papers for July's General Synod of the Church of England were published and a Media Briefing was held. For most orthodox Anglicans the first paper they read was the GS2303 “Update to General Synod of the Implementation Work for Living in Love and Faith,” which sets out the work that has been done since February's decision to introduce the Prayers of Love and Faith.


The paper notes that of the 226 responses received about the wording of the Prayers, 148 were classified as generally positive and 78 were generally negative, of which “Overall the most significant critical comments were that the PLF were too much like marriage (60 responses).” A revised version was taken to the House of Bishops in June and the even-more revised version can now be found in GS2303.


At the Media Briefing the Bishop of London was asked to specify how the draft “Prayers of Love and Faith” had been amended to take account of this negative feedback.

Her answer was that some of the readings had changed and specifically in relation to the prayers that there had been changes concerning the prayers for the exchange of rings.


It is true - two Old Testament readings have been removed from the suggested resources - both from the Song of Songs. Of course, there is nothing to stop someone choosing to have readings from the Song of Songs.


It is also true that ' A Prayer for when rings are worn' has disappeared from the 'Prayers' and instead appear in the service structure. But when it comes to the content - it is a case of spot the difference.


In February the prayers looked like this:


A prayer when rings are worn

God of faithfulness and joy,

source of everlasting love, by your blessing,

let these rings remind N and N of the commitment

they have made to each other,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. All Amen.


(or)

Almighty God,

whose love is revealed in Jesus Christ

and poured out in the Holy Spirit:

by your blessing, may these rings

worn by your servants N and N

be signs of their hope-filled covenant

and of your everlasting love,

in our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.


Now the two prayers have been combined


A prayer when rings are worn

God of faithfulness and joy,

whose love is revealed in Jesus Christ

and poured out in the Holy Spirit:

may these rings worn by your servants N and N

be signs of their hope-filled covenant

and of your everlasting love

revealed in Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.


And the phrase "by your blessing" has been removed.


Of course there are still several prayers under the title "Prayers for God's Blessing" - which begs the question - of why this change has happened. Will someone please explain why God can't be asked to bless rings but he can be asked to bless people "in their life together" as we "celebrate what is good and holy in a relationship" (paragraph 11c).


Less has been said about the results of the other two Working Parties - both working on the "shape of the space we agree to inhabit together, and how far that space may stretch to include different perspectives, and what boundaries there may be." Whatever that means.


But as the Bishop of London said, when asked when the prayers would be published, "We are on track for November" To which the Bishop Truro later added when asked what the 'sticking points were' - "We are committed to sticking together... the only sticking point is our stickiness."


It looks like last year's 'Walking Together' is this year's 'Sticking Together'.

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