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The Congregational Church of West Medford is now doing business as Sanctuary UCC.

In-Between Times

“In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the qualityBetween Parades by Ann Weems of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.”—Wikipedia

A student sits in a liminal time when celebrating a graduation. Twilight is a daily liminal time between light and dark, day and night. Equinoxes, solstices, New Years Day—these are all threshold moments.  And despite my (very advanced) age, my first pregnancy felt like a liminal time—between the un-encumbered freedom of my single person’s lifestyle and that of a responsible parent.

Richard Rohr describes a liminal space as: the place of transition, waiting, and not knowing…”a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.”

Beloved, here in the moments (and the weeks) after we have received the recommendation for “The Bold Decision” called for by our Crossroads Process and by God, we find ourselves at a threshold. As individuals, we may be feeling the fear and panic of this space of unknowing—for everything about the future smacks of continued experimentation and exploration. It will not be a sure thing and the way that it will be and the way that it will feel to be this new ministry that God is calling forth–it will not be clear. As Rohr suggests, not knowing leaves even the boldest of us wanting, at best, to define all the answers and at worst, to try to control or run from and avoid it all costs.

I love what Rohr says about liminal space being “when we are finally out of the way.”  We agreed at the beginning of this process that this Crossroads journey was about discerning God’s will for our future. As a faith community we will have some time to (and we need to) sit still in the liminal spiritual space to which God has lead us and “get out of our way.”  Yes, we will do some more processing of the ideas and the questions that come up for us—but eventually (June 1) we will make a decision together—even if we are scared to death!  Together.  This is one of the great joys of being in a faith community.  This is reflective of the holy power of faith communities.  We have each other to hold onto and our decision making will be led by God and better because of the convenant we have as members of a congregation to find the future–together. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will make our way through this liminal time, moving from what has been to what is to be.  We will be made new by God’s vision for our faith community. We will be resurrected for a new and another journey forward as followers of Jesus, holding each other in the in-between times!

It does not feel like a coincidence that we are at this threshold and are “Between Parades.” May you remember your Hosannas through this holy week, and may the stones shout our loud even if you can not.

With blessing and prayer, Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade/

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