Thought for the Week

This week’s Thought for the Week is by the Revd Dr Warren Huffa, one of today’s leading biblical and theological scholars in Australia.  In a short paper called Worship without Expectations, Dr Huffa gives all church-going people something to seriously reflect upon and think through. It was published in May 2010.  Dr Huffa is an Anglican parish priest and lecturer in the Diocese of Adelaide. 

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 (or anywhere in the West).

Although church-hopping until the hopper finds the church they like has made churches more honest as they cannot assume people’s allegiance, 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.

Revd Dr Warren Huffa

Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week by Canon Matthias Der, Dean-designate of St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong

Count your blessings, not your troubles. Whenever we encounter a challenge, we always have a choice. We can choose to be a person full of thankfulness or full of complaints. Thankfulness will lead us to have faith, optimism, contentment and hope in God. Complaints will cultivate more worries, fear and concerns. Which path would you choose?

Lent Pilgrimage 2012

Lent Pilgrimage  – Saturday 3rd March 2012  [see the Calendar tab also]

A Journey to the Heart of Lent

Topic: In the footsteps of Christ – from the Desert to the Cross

This day-long pilgrimage is for all members of St John’s and its daughter churches and will be led by the Revd’s Will Newman, Desmond Cox and Mark Rogers. The venue for the retreat is the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre, which is on a hill above Shatin in the New Territories.

Established in 1930, the Centre promotes Christian spirituality, retreats and Chinese Christian art.

A coach will leave from St John’s Cathedral at 09:15 on Saturday 3rd March and return by 16:30.  If you would like to join the pilgrimage then email your details to:

Appointment of New Dean of St. John’s Cathedral

The Rev'd Canon Matthias Der the newly appointed Dean of St. John’s Anglican / Episcopal Cathedral, Hong Kong
The Rev'd Canon Matthias Der.

The Trustees of St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong have announced results of the work of the Search Committee of the Board of Patronage. Chaired by Archbishop Paul Kwong, this Committee was convened last year to find a successor to Dean Andrew Chan, following his election as the next Bishop of Western Kowloon Diocese.

The Committee conducted an extensive international search for the best candidate and received responses from priests in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Nigeria.

The Trustees of St John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong are pleased to state that the next Dean of St. John’s Cathedral will be The Rev’d Canon Matthias Der.  Fr. Matthias was raised in Hong Kong and attended the Diocesan Boy’s School. He is the son of an Anglican priest who himself ministered in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada.

Fr. Matthias’ 22 years priestly ministry are marked with nurturing Christian discipleship, sharing the gospel and making it relevant to everyday life. Currently, he is incumbent of St. Christopher’s Anglican Church in the Diocese of Toronto.

In 2007 he was appointed an Honorary Canon of St. James’ Cathedral, Toronto. Canon Matthias is married to Rachel and has two teenage daughters.

Upon acceptance of the post, Fr. Matthias said, “It is with excitement and deep trust in God that I look forward to sharing Christ’s ministry with the people of  St John’s Cathedral in furthering God’s kingdom.”

It is anticipated Fr. Matthias will take up his new post in late July this year.

Thought for the Week

Lord, I place myself in your presence. After the strain and turmoil of the day

I rest quietly here, as a little boat which has been tossed by the waves,

buffeted by the wind, but now rests secure in a sheltered harbour.

Here all my projects lose their power over me. 

My fragmented self is reassembled and I am made whole again.

In your presence, I experience my true worth, 

which consists not in doing but in being. 

I surrender myself into your hands.  I am at peace.