One of the issues "post-Spong" is what we do to be church, especially in worship. At first sight he can seem to undercut so much of it. People find themselves in great agreement with him but then wonder where to go because so much of their parish church, especially worship, no longer seems to work. On reflection, of course, Spong has often simply helped clarify or articulate an already present dissatisfaction with worship.
In light of that I want to ask some questions:
How much have we made worship, especially on Sundays, an idol? How much is the notion of Sunday morning worship in a congregation so fixed in our minds that we identify it as being central to being Christian?
Does living in extravagant, selfless love, based on the model of Jesus demand the kind of worship we have traditionally done? At theological college we studied how our patterns of worship went back to the days of the synagogues and even before. But is their an intrinsic reason that we must use this model?
Post-moderns repudiate the theology of the new pharisees of EMU and other varieties. We find that their worship does not work and is even abusive of us. Yet how much do we let those places set the worship agenda for us? We have said their theology is wanting. So why would we let them set the agenda for how we be church?
The centrality of being "Christian" in many of the newly and increasingly conservative congregations is worship and personal piety. The limits of evangelism are often only to make others to believe the same. This being so, should we not regard the common attitudes about worship and personal piety in our denominations with some suspicion? If the underpinning of their theological being is a reactionary defense against reality and if worship is a major port of this then ought not we be very suspicious about the nature of corporate worship and what it does? Their worship, after all, is based on their theology.... that is why we find it as unpleasant and controlling and authoritarian as we do.
What is un-worshipful about sitting in a street cafe talking through an issue consciously in the presence of the Divine? If the Divine is not that person in the sky, then what is worshipful about getting together on Sunday morning and pretending that the divine is such a person?! Would not acting out what is implied by the Divine we know be more worshipful than spending hours on a pretence?!!!? Is not our proper worship the living out of our discipleship of Jesus to the full in every part of our life?
I wonder if part of the trouble we have seeing how we will be church has to do with this notion that we must still have worship in the traditional sense. Maybe, as someone put it to me recently, worship of that kind is an idea whose time is past. The worship we have developed over decades and centuries is based on a model of God we now see to be wrong for our age. So we should expect that worship of that kind will not work. If it still did, maybe that would indicate we had a problem, and were not thinking through the implications of our biblical and theological study.
So although I am unsure what to do with "Sunday" worship I am not too bothered by this. I am feeling a great freedom to begin my worship again in a way that honours the Divine and brings me closer to the way of Jesus.