This morning, after some dithering, I went through the same routine as I did last Sunday: up to All Saints for Centering Prayer and then the service. It turned out to be even more like last week than I expected though. The lessons that were read to us -- the Epistle, the Psalm and the Gospel reading -- were exactly the same as they were last week.
Now, I went through an entire liturgical year with the Lutherans, who seem to have the same calendar and lectionary schedule as the Anglicans (and Catholics), and I don't remember it ever repeating like this. I don't know who determines it, but I was under the impression it was set from high up. Moreover, today isn't any old Sunday -- it's Christ the King Sunday, which wraps up the liturgical year before Advent begins the new one next week. Yet there was no mention of this.
What's going on? I didn't get a chance to ask anyone, and I've been trying to fight the cynical interpretation that this is a case of pastoral ego. The assistant rector who preached last week (the same one who leads my Beta course, incidentally) said that he was going to continue his sermon this week, and sure enough he did. If he rearranged the calendar so he could have enough time to elaborate on his brilliant thoughts, that is so ... so low church. It reminds me of the discussion recently with Dash and Dwight over the use of Power Point in sermons, and what liturgical function sermons are actually supposed to serve. Here's Dwight:
But I don't think that the sermon is the time to transmit information. I think the point of the sermon is to speak the gospel into the life of the hearer(s). That may involve instruction as a feature, but it is primarily a different thing. Liturgy is a conversation between the Word of God (mediated by the preacher) and the hearer. (In the beginning was the Conversation -- a valid translation of John 1:1 -- and that conversation continues today.) The sermon is a part of that conversation. And while some conversations include instruction (i.e., didactic content), the chief point of a sermon is not to do so. It is to relay God's part in a conversation. ...
If a pastor needs a quotation that is so complex that it can't be understood in a couple of hearings (which means: read it twice), then the pastor doesn't need it. If the outline is so complicated that it must be written down to be absorbed, it's too complicated. If the pastor can't get the message across conversationally without props, then she doesn't have the right message. (Yes, I do mean that literally.)