Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.08.20)

I’m reading a great deal these days about what the Church will be like once we are allowed to gather again. It’s all speculative. No one really knows how things will have to change or what the “new normal” will look like. Will masks and social distancing be temporary precautions or permanent practices? When will we be able to participate in those rites that require touch, such as baptism and ordination? Will virtual worship be a permanent option for anyone who chooses it or just an expedient when physical attendance is not possible? Will our patterns and practices in worship change in substantive ways? As I say, nobody knows.

However, I have been helped in becoming more comfortable with this uncertainty by Father Richard Rohr, who writes about “liminal space”. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin limen, meaning “threshold”. He writes, “Without standing on the threshold for much longer than we’re comfortable, we won’t be able to see beyond ourselves to the broader and more inclusive world that lies before us. In liminal space, we must leave business as usual and enter a world where the rules and expectations are quite different.”

Unfortunately, what I think Father Rohr is telling us is that we are going to have to endure some lengthy period of discomfort before we can move across the threshold into our new reality. He quotes Brandon J. Robertson from an article entitled “On the Threshold of Tomorrow”:

      We are entering a truly liminal space where, for a multitude of reasons, many are leaving the ways they’ve historically worshiped and entering into uncharted
      territory. On one hand, this is an exciting time in religious history, as we participate in radical and fundamental reforms of our institutions. On the other hand, this
      process can cause great anxiety for those of us who have devoted our lives to teaching, practicing, and guiding others in a particular spiritual or religious
      tradition. . . .

      What are we to do at such a threshold moment? . . . In moments of transition, we are simply to be. We are to pause and acknowledge that a transition is taking
      place. Instead of seeking to abruptly pass through a threshold, we are to tarry. . . . A new reality is emerging, but we cannot see beyond the threshold. All we
      know is that we exist in this moment, where everything is in transition. We may experience a new way of being, but we cannot yet sense what it will look like.

I have an idea that, were it not for some changes being forced upon us by current realities, we at Parkway might not have considered crossing any thresholds or doing anything differently. Once again, God takes darkness and turns it into light. Let’s continue to stand on the threshold of our new future for longer than we are comfortable, and then, as God leads, let’s step together across the threshold into our future.