Monday, 31 May 2010

Worship Without Expectations

 Following on from a previous post, worship without expectations is a good thing. It hollows out space in our hearts free from our own self-centredness ready for the living God. it is easy to see expectations regarding God and spirituality at work in contemporary Australia. Although church-hopping until the hopper finds the church they like has made churches more honest as they cannot assume people's allegience, overall it is unhelpful in the spiritual journey. Supermarket spirituality encourages people to think they know how God wishes to be gracious to them and so they search until they find it. This assumption might be hidden behind the search for uplifting music or a gospel minister, but it still assumes the person concerned knows what God wants for them.

Contrary to this, I don't think we really know what God wants for us, and how much goodness God wishes to shower upon us, and the sheer weight of goodness we miss because we have tunnel vision: we only receive the goodness that our expectations allow. Breaking our addiction to ourselves by not coming to worship with expectations of what God should do and how God should achieve it can be painful. People confuse this spiritual correction going on within us as boredom, or poor preaching, or bad liturgy, etc.

Another example of this is when people stay at a church because they are receiving what they want. If you think about it, it is just the other side of the coin of people leaving because they don't get what they want. Coming to church without expectations of how and what God should do broadens our experience of God, and our hopefulness. Sitting in church when you don't particularly feel God's presence is good practice for those times when God seems particularly absent. Feeling like God is absent at church will also give us a new sense of how shocking the crucifixion of Jesus must have been for the first disciples, not to mention a new sympathy for Jesus hanging on the cross is desolation. We are in good company! And if you are sitting in church and you wonder where God is in all of this, well focus on the Eucharist: it proclaims the death and resurrection of the Lord until he comes. Talk about presence in absence. And the next time we find ourselves nailed to the cross, there will be some formed practice to fall back on.


  1. No expectations at church all well and good!
    People can become brain washed into no expectations and when something is offered they reject it due to “no expectations”.

    If I was a parishioner, I personally expect something better than no expectation at church, I would expect that God/Oneness to open my heart to his/her glory.
    Other wise I may as well be at the shopping mart being of service to my family and in so doing being of service to God/Oneness.

  2. Granted. But what would your expectation be of how God would do this? No expectations would be good at this point.

  3. That is up to God/Oneness.

    I think he had already done it a number of years ago. Where do you think the poetry I write comes from.
    The latest.
    A Prayer of Action

    I release your creation
    From any obligation
    It may have unto me.

    I humbly ask all life forms
    From the stream of life,
    Who wish to come travel with me
    In service unto your creation,
    To please do so.

    I ask nothing from your creation,
    And I give all that I have in my heart
    Unto it.
    I understand the implications
    Of this prayer.
    So shall it be done.

    I suspect I follow the path of service while some others follow the path of worship.