posted on January 21, 2012 17:36
I have recently been doing a bit of reading about something called liminal space or liminality. It isn’t as spooky as it sounds. It is essentially a kind of threshold period. It is the sense of no longer belonging to the old and not quite belonging to the new. It is when life has moved us ahead of our plans and we are in what can feel like a free-fall state. It can be vocational, personal, relational, or logistical but it is always unsettling to be between the now and the not yet, especially when it isn’t by our design.
In this season of liminality we can experience a great deal of angst, fear, and even depression. This is the season when our comforts zones have disappeared and we are looking at what feels like nothing but loose ends.
Sometimes we aren’t even aware that we’ve entered that space until we begin to experience the emotional fallout. As mystic Richard Rohr describes, it is when we have left one room but not quite entered another. It is the doorway we must walk through after life's most defining moments. It is the space in which we find ourselves after things like divorces, deaths, job changes, sudden losses, and living post traumatically. It isn’t always such drastic events either. It can be when we find ourselves in a shift in our belief systems or ideology that we haven’t settled. Regardless, it is the space from which we have to address what life will look like from here.
The great thing about liminal spaces is that it is always where God begins doing a new thing. We are no longer on autopilot and we can begin to anticipate something completely new. We can finally begin to see ourselves outside of the box we’ve been in for years or we begin to sense a wave of God rolling us forward away from old ways of thinking and being that we might have never left behind on our own. For all the angst and worry that accompanies being in liminal space there is a great deal to be celebrated and anticipated.
There are multiple examples in scripture of God leading people into such places and it was always a time of teaching and preparing. It is an excellent season to expect the fruit of deeper insights, wisdom and compassion to follow.
Liminality doesn’t last forever so we can be certain that we will eventually turn a corner of some kind soon enough. Whether we face it with fear or anticipation is up to us.
The Call to Worship God
Psalm 95:6-7 (NIV)
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
We will open our worship in song set with the traditional hymn, O God Our Help In Ages Past. We will incorporate liturgy from the Shorter Catechism between verses. The hymn and the liturgy reflect, define, and exalt God as creator, protector, and provider. We will segue into the worship song, You Never Let Go, another song reminding us that we never escape God’s gaze or grip. We will follow this with the Audrey Assad tune, Restless. This song reminds us that we can still our restless hearts in God’s perfection, peace, and provision.
Our offertory will be a short film prepared by our Haiti missions team. This will be a follow up to the work that the team has done and continues to do as we partner with our Haitian sisters and brothers in the work God is doing there.
After the message we will have a short time of response with the first song being a new song by Vicki Beeching entitled, Glory To God Forever. This driving anthem declares the past, present, and future of God’s glory being declared in all the earth. It takes the point further in the bridge of the song with the passionate plea that God take our lives and use them for his glory. We will segue into the worship standard, How Great Is Our God, another song declaring the timeless glory and beauty of our God. These songs are sung with words like “our, we, us”, the collective corporate language of the church in worship.
As we find ourselves in that threshold space of liminality there are still universal truths and it is of those things we choose to sing and celebrate - the greatness and faithfulness of our God, the Son, and the Spirit.