Wednesday, October 16, 2019

OCTOBER OVERTURES

This a reflection was given to a group studying the Beatitudes, Matthew 5,6,7.  EnJOY!

Although you are unable to close your eyes, find a comfortable position in your chair and imagine where these words take you.
Make sure you are in a quiet place with no distractions.
Visualize . . . wander with me as I share  words that hopefully will enhance your sense of BEING.
God created us in His image . . .  human beings . . .  not human doings.  Time and space was created just for us . . . to BE . . .  to breathe in the pace of life, one step at a time, to take a time out once in awhile in order to enhance our attitude according to what God created us to be.

Imagine that you choose to spend time alone with God.  
You select a lovely knoll next to a stream under a large tree that provides protection from the sun.  
It’s a beautiful sunny day with just enough breeze to enhance the balmy temperature.  You have allowed two-hours to linger unimpeded by unnecessary distractions.  
You have taken nothing with you:  no phone, no bible, nothing to write on or write with.   You are well fed, well watered, well-emptied and ready to simply BE.  
You have only the very comfortable outfit you are wearing and a large, thick, waterproof mat to sit upon.  
The mat fabric feels soothing to bare feet.     
If you doze off for a few moments or the full two hours, you must need the rest. 
 You can select another time for your two hours with the Lord.

Remember, you are sitting on a beautiful knoll where you can see far and wide.  
A brook, with rocks, nooks and crannies, softly trickles beside you.   
Trees, large and small, rustle their leaves.  
It’s you and this beautiful natural setting.  
It’s just you and the Lord taking some time together to simply BE.   
After you look around for a few minutes and drink in the simple wonders of nature, what then?  What do you do for the next two hours? 
What would your attitude be after about 15 minutes, then 45 or after One hour much less two?

My guess is that for the first 15-30 minutes our well-being will be high on the charts.  Our body would relax, we’d smell the fresh air, taste a sense of freedom from
our to-do lists, and bask in the luxury of finding time to mellow out and listen to the brook, the chirping birds, frogs, crickets, the whistle of the breeze or whatever else surrounds us.  

Our eyes might try to define cloud shapes or we might count the trees and notice the vibrant colors of grass, wild flowers, leaf shapes, tree bark, or the sparkling water that hits small rocks as it slowly moves along.  
The next 30 minutes might prompt us mentally to go through our prayer list: the names of all those we usually pray for daily or weekly.  
Of course this would include our own needs.  
It’s a perfect time to ‘unload’ with the Lord.  

In fact, while praying for others, many of our own needs
may well be addressed.   Remember, we cannot hear what the Lord says to us if we feel turmoil within us.  
We cannot love our neighbor until we understand the Lord’s deep love for US.  
We cannot understand the Lord’s deep love for us until we leave our burdens at the foot of the Cross, linger with Him and let go of our own concerns.

In so doing, our attitude should be greatly enhanced and we may feel like we are floating on those clouds we see passing by above us.  

After about an hour and a half, we should be ready to do the hard work with the Lord.   In fact, we cannot ‘Do’ our best job as Christians if we do not gain that sense of simply Being well with the Lord . . .  Well Being.  
The hard work is to WAIT in the Lord’s presence and LISTEN for the Lord’s direction, affirmation or whatever the Lord whispers into our heart.

Now just SIT THERE . . .  
WAIT. . .  

RECEIVE.     
BE still  . . . 
KNOW the Lord is with you . . . 
WAIT for presence of the I AM to envelop you.

What is your attitude now?  
How is your sense of well being?  

This exercise is one way to develop your own
 BE  ATTITUDES
May you feel refreshed after this imaginary 2 hours.

May you initiate 2 hours of ‘Being’ with the Lord as often as is possible.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

SEPTEMBER INSIGHTS

September is a great month of transition as the days cool a bit and moisture decreases.  Our summer in Pennsylvania was no different than in Florida with 90 % humidity, 90 degree days and so much rain that we did not water the garden until this month.  Plenty of time to linger a little longer inside, near our window overlooking our back yard.

Words escape me as we travel to Canada and return via Boston.  
We now linger over chores we have left for dryer weather: painting the back door, cleaning and painting the bird house that is now empty, framing pictures, cleaning the garage and shed, clearing out more nooks and crannies of stored ‘stuff’ that “we might use some day.”
Umbrellas hover over the quaint Quebec City street as we enjoy weather brought to us by the tail of hurricane Doriane.  Thirty degrees with high winds and rain did not move these well attached umbrellas.

I have gathered wonder-filled quotes from others far wiser than myself.
Enjoy words of wisdom with pictures from our month of adventure.  If an author of one of the quotes is unfamiliar to you, look up the name.  Each has shared wisdom with the world, some for centuries.

Hotel Frontenac at the top of the citadel in Old Quebec City.  We lingered over lunch as the wind blew a smattering of rain.  We then walked the 365 stairs to the lower part of the old city and enjoyed reams of people who did not let a bit of bad weather stop them from having a wonder-filled day.

“ You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”  G. K. Chesterton

I couldn't help it.  Dessert at the Frontenac Hotel was a chocolate cookie-box filled with chocolate and cream.  This artistic desert was a delight.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”  Erma Bombeck   

A little rain did not stop the tourists on the steps of Old City Quebec.

"In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones—bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 155

This is the back of the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal.  I love the Romanesque architecture mixed with Gothic.

“Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian graces; ingratitude, one of the most vicious sins.”  Billy Graham

This is a rare find in the middle of a large city.  It was on the side of the ancient church building in Montreal.
.
"There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world. If the love of the world takes possession of you, there is no way for the love of God to enter into you. Let the love of the world take the second place, and let the love of God dwell in you. Let the better love take over."
St. Augustine, p. 34  Augustine Day by Day

We almost missed this mural on a building in a dark alley at the edge of the shopping area in old Quebec city.  Amazing!

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

People in Montreal are very proud of their Notre Dame Basilica.  It's a tourist hot spot with a beautiful, large chapel on the side that provides a quiet place to worship.  This incredible edifice was swarming with the curious but conversation was is whispers.  Magnificent!

“Blessed are the single-hearted for they shall enjoy much peace.  If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace.  In that stillness you will know what His will is.”   Amy Carmichael

Of course we had to see the Old North Church in Boston. A glorious day to walk the cobbled streets near the harbor.

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?          G. K. Chesterton
We just happened to pass where the "Tea Party" took place.  This replica seems smaller than I'd imagined.  "No taxation without representation" was a good beginning for a nation that, for the most part, still relies on this motto.

“Destiny has two ways of crushing us - - by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them.  But he who only wills what God wills escapes both catastrophes.  All things work together for his good.”  [Elizabeth Elliott, wife of 1 of 5 missionaries killed in the Amazon by Caniblals.  Years later she returned with others to lead this tribe, and others, to Christ.]
Elizabeth Elliott also said, “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given.  One or the other becomes a habit of life.”
I love architecture.  Boston gave us plenty of opportunity to linger among fabulous old buildings.  This was my favorite.

George Mueller once said, “Pray with all your might for the blessing of God; but work, at the same time, with all diligence, with all patience, with all perseverance.”

Home is where our heart is.  Always nice to be back home to linger in the garden, especially as the weather remains balmy and bright.


“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  G. K. Chesterton

That's it for September.
As with each month, we loved every minute and look forward to the next.

AUGUST ABUNDANCE

[Editor's note: This was written in August but never placed on the blog.  Enjoy lingering over this and the next post almost at the same time!]

August has been a unique month.  
Although we live in the hills of Pennsylvania, summer has been hot and wet like being in Florida, where we lived for twelve years.  
Muggy nights, no relief for the senses.  
It’s as if I were floating in a quiet lagoon on a hot, misty day.  Toward the end of the month the rapid change in weather surprised us.  Once I was resigned to sticky-hot days, a few storms slowly brought cooler weather.

This very last day of August, I set aside time to linger on the back porch as the cool breezes drift through this cozy space.  
My thoughts wander. 
I think of the promise I made to myself this summer.
“I’ll read the lectionary [an order of daily scripture passages that enables me to read through the bible in three years] and write a meditation eery day."

I not only must read and digest God's word but, as I do so, I pray that one word or sentence will touch my heart in a way that I can share with others.
It’s not that I have little to do.  
In fact, hubby and I have entertained visitors and have dealt with more projects than usual this summer.  
We are busy every single day.
Yet, this promise I made to myself is the only way I can think of to set aside a couple hours each day and persevere in my goal.
This is one goal I have thought of for years and never took the extra time to activate.  
Time, moments to linger a little longer with a phrase or story daily, should enable me to nurture the ever-growing roots of my faith. 
Since I so enjoy tucking words of love, grace and exhortation into my heart, why not share my thoughts with others?
My soul is deeply rooted in the assurance of my salvation.  This assurance does not just happen.  I’ve spent the past 40-plus years digging deep, asking questions, seeking understanding.

The building of deep, healthy roots of my faith in Christ is  like what I’ve observed in the Leland Cypress in our back yard.  
Our favorite pine grows taller each year and towers over our small yard.  It’s branch-span covers the diameter of at least twenty-five feet.  Yet they bounce gracefully through frequent wind and rain storms we’ve encountered this summer.  
Heavy snow in winter merely weighs on the limbs without breakage and has provided a tranquil setting as I’ve lingered at the window. 
Yet, it was a ten foot tree when planted ten years ago.  No way can this large tree stand firmly without a very deep root system.

This majestic sight seems impossible
without constant feeding the massive roots would have shriveled up.
Fortunately, our lovely Leland anchored its roots deeply in all directions.  
Water, and a myriad of nutrients that flows from the hill above it, feed it daily.
Our lovely pine lingers in its beauty, even in challenging weather, as it attracts the curious into our garden.
I love it.  
I’m reminded of my own constant need to chew on words which help me grow, especially during times of adversity.  
God’s affirmations, promises, insights and wisdom feed me daily.  
By digesting the nutrients of God’s presence through prayer, study worship, Holy Communion and song, the Holy Spirit keeps feeding me, rooting me deeply, so that I might stand tall during passing showers or high-power storms.

My life has been a circuitous maze of wonders, challenges, pitfalls and accomplishments.  I’ve ‘been there done that’ in so many directions that I feel I’ve explored my own capacity to drink in each moment of life.  
Exciting.
Yet, some days are exhausting and others are exhilarating as I breathe in the beauty of God’s creation or embrace a wonder-filled adventure.
Some days I drink deep and linger a little longer than usual over some passage of scripture or insight-full book.
It’s all good.
I embrace linger-longer days, good and bad, as I become firmly planted just where I am.  
My roots remain strong no matter what happens.
Just like the pine tree in our yard, what we do not see is the most important.  
Without roots our pine tree would topple over and die.
We also need roots to keep from toppling over in the slightest storm.
Without my daily time of meditation and reflection how long could I persevere in life’s challenges?
I've never waited to find out.
Read Psalm 1.

It’s a great example of God’s grace-filled-tree that is deeply rooted near living water, the sustainer of life.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Linger in July with the history of the Creed


I listened intently to the sermon, nodding in agreement throughout.
I was taught that saying the ‘Creed’ before receiving Holy Communion was imperative in order to understand our baptismal covenant, understand what we believed before we received.

The more we understand the history behind the Creed, the better we understand how important it is that we believe every word.  The following discussion may be complex but it is important for us to dig deep into our roots in order to understand the importance of our continued growth in the Christian faith.  Discussion of passages in scripture with other Christians is a very important part of our growth in Christ.  We are not called to be alone in our quest to know Jesus and make Him known.  We are called to Ask, Seek, and Knock . . . in fellowship with others who are doing the same.  We will then find answers, grow in our faith and help to lead others into the kingdom of God.  Knowing, and articulating, what we believe is the first step.

I was reminded of Arius, a priest from Alexandria, Egypt, who was gifted in rhetoric, a showman of sorts.  He argued against the divinity of Christ and managed not only to
persuade priests but also bishops that Jesus was not divine, not begotten but created . . .  made!  This influence, of course, assimilated into the Christian culture of the day.

I’ll go into the history in a minute but, in fact, this Arian influence permeated translations of scripture.  Proverbs was written in Hebrew.  Yet, Proverbs was translated into the ‘language of the day’, Greek, when the Septuagint became the only source used for most translations.  The Greek mistook the word, ‘created’ [bara] in Genesis 1 to be the same word used in Proverbs 8:22a.  Wisdom, in Proverbs, was not ‘created’ [bara] but was already ‘with’ God, ‘begotten’ by God [qana].

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-23  [A book of Wisdom]
1   Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?
2  On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3  Beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4a  "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.
22   The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
23  Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

Arians, not believing in the divinity of Jesus, insisted that Proverbs 8’s discussion of wisdom being ‘created’ by God was the same as Jesus being ‘created’ by God.
First, this Wisdom literature is about Wisdom and in no way refers to Jesus.
Wisdom was not ‘created’ but was already a part of creation . . . not a part of God but was ‘begotten’ by God to be part of creation.

According to the New Interpreter’s Bible [NIB], Vol. V, p.98-99, the Arian heresy stated that, “Christ, as wisdom, was the first creation of God. . . . Christ was not God in the same way that the Father was God.”   Orthodoxy through the centuries, fighting against the Arian heresy, translated the word “create” in Proverbs 8:22a as ‘possess’ which is evident in the New American Standard Bible translation.  However, scholars used the Greek translation instead of returning to the original Hebrew 
The best translation, as in the Nicene Creed of 351 is ‘beget’ or ‘begotten.’   NIB states,  “To understand Christ is the hidden reality underlying and fulfilling the cosmic and personal imagery of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, without positing a direct one-to-one correspondence in all particulars.” 

By 313, the church had been given great liberty since Constantine had become emperor.  By 323 the Arian movement was in full swing.  Fortunately, Bishop Alexander of Alexandria demanded clarification of Arius’ views.   An overwhelming number of clergy called Arius a
heretic and demanded that he and eleven other like-minded priests and deacons be deposed.  This did not stop Arius.  He managed to flee to Caesarea where he was free to preach his heretical doctrine.  Amazingly, the Syrian bishops seemed to agree.

Emperor Constantine saw that this Arian heresy was dividing his vast Empire both politically and theologically so he called forth the first ecumenical council in church history in Nicea, in Asia minor, in 325.

The most famous definition to emerge from this council declared Jesus Christ to be HOMOOUSIOS, meaning he is CONSUBSTANTIAL and COETERNAL with God, the Father.  The council of Nicea declared formally what had always been the faith of the church.  Unfortunately, the Council of Nicea merely condemned the Arian heresy but could not stop it.  This powerful doctrine swirls in and out of different ‘Christian’ sects to this day.

The greatest development from the Nicene Council, besides defining homoousius, was the creation of a CREED, to be said before anyone received Holy Communion.  

The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven
and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made,  of one Being with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.  [Book of Common Prayer p. 358]

Bishop Alexander of Alexandria brought his astute ‘secretary’
with him, Athanasius.  Having worked with Bishop Alexander for seven years, Athanasius was a well known scholar.  Born in 297, he was already well versed in legal studies, philosophy, theology rhetoric bringing him into the ranks of the highly esteemed.  In his late twenties, Athanasius became Bishop of Alexandria after Bishop Alexander’s death.  

Athanasius was determined not to be in communion with anyone who believed the Arian heresy.  This was dividing the empire.  He was neither diplomat nor scholar but a harsh “apologist.”  Arianism was so popular that Athanasius was exiled five times in his forty-six years as bishop.  However, in that time, he wrote the “Athanasiun Creed”, a longer, more complex version of the Creed we know today.  [Book of Common Prayer p. 864]   He was a great influence in his time, especially in the life of Augustine of Hippo in Africa.  Athanasius died during a peaceful era, May 2, 373.

Augustine, well versed in rhetoric, as was expected of leaders in that day, was so filled with grace that he was an even more convincing defender of the Christian faith. 
Heresies continued to this day.  However, great theologians like Alexander, Constantine, Athenasius, Augustine and so many more, not only stood firm in their Christian faith but were willing to be exiled or martyred to maintain right Christian doctrine.  We may choose not to learn about these great defenders of the faith but it is because of them that Christ Jesus still reigns in this world in spite of heresies that persist to this day.



Sunday, June 30, 2019

OFF THE GRID

Of course it’s the last day of June and I have not lingered in my blog for the entire month.
I use to write daily.  
[I still offer a scripture or a small vignette of those who have helped shape Christian doctrine through the centuries.  Check out “Daily Graces from God”.]  
Then I settled on weekly notes on my ‘Linger Longer with Gail’ blog.
Now I can barely write monthly.
“What’s going on?” I ask myself.
My inner whispers . . .  those that gnaw at me daily . . .  tell me . . . 
“I’m staying off the grid.”
Incognito.
Absent.
Every excuse in the world filters through my soul.
We made our annual change from our southern abode to our northern abode.
That does not compute.  We came North in May.

“The garden died!”  Yes, my huge rose bush died and tops of others had to be cut back.  It took one week to clean up the garden but gorgeous weather with loads of rain made it BLOOM!

Perhaps the best reason for not lingering with words is that I have none?
I’m reading, digesting, swirling in new thought.
Yet, I have no words?
For years I have so filled my lists with ‘doing’ that I’ve taken little time for just ‘being.’
As my dear friend says, “We are human ‘beings’ not human ‘doings.’”
So, my grand excuse is that I simply was BEING . . .  for one solid month.

It is truly good to step off the grid of the ‘TO DO’ lists.
It’s good to linger with no thoughts in my head.
It’s good, at least for me, to forget my goals and linger in the garden, linger with a good book . . . and then another and another.
It’s good to watch my favorite movie on video even if I have seen it at least twenty times.
I just sit there, get totally nostalgic, allow a tear or two to overtake me, breathe deep and place myself in another world.
It’s good to enjoy friends who visit for a day or two and see friends I have not been able to enjoy for six months.

It’s good to GET OFF THE GRID once in awhile.
It’s good to become invisible and invite my imagination to replenish itself.
It’s good to step back from volunteering at various churches when other clergy need a break. 
 [I’m not completely ‘off the grid’ with this commitment but I’m doing far less.]
I’m learning to stop ‘work’ and create moments of renewal that bring bliss-filled JOY.
I’ve decided to take time for more prayer regarding a specific age group.
This takes loads of discipline but little more.
I’m praying for those in the next generation, those who may have been raised by the best parents but who seem so lost.
I’m praying for those who have never stepped into a place of worship . . . any worship.  

I’m finding renewed JOY in studying the ‘fathers and mothers’ of our faith.
These are the ones like Augustine and Aquinas and Teresa of Avila.  
I’m digesting a deeper understanding of ‘Covenant’ and what Jesus really meant when He said, “This is My body . . . This is My blood . . . at the last Passover meal He shared with his disciples.”

It’s good to be ‘off the grid’ once in awhile.
I pray I can share what I’m digesting in the coming months.





Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Liminal Moment in May

A Liminal Time . . .  reflection on the Gospel of John 14:23-29

This passage in John continues Jesus’ last discourse to his disciples before he is crucified.  These words are
repeated in a similar way when Jesus finally leaves this earth, just before His ascension into heaven.  Jesus repeatedly reminds His followers that they will never be left without someone to lead them, someone to guide their thinking.  If we love the Lord, thy God with all our heart, we can continue the great commission of leading others to Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Once again, Jesus reminds His followers that the Father will send ‘Someone’ to help them remember.  These are affirming words that Jesus’ disciples would not fully comprehend until Pentecost.  And so, the disciples enter a place of wondering, of waiting.  They stand on a precipice or a threshold that is, for now, a safe place.  They have no clue what is ahead and can only live on memories of the past three years.

We might call this ‘threshold’ or holding place a liminal time.  Laeman is Latin for ‘threshold’.  This passage in John focuses on a very short ‘liminal’ time . . . about three days of unknowing.  Of course the Christ followers are greatly relieved to find that Jesus is ‘alive.’  Their liminal time, their time of wondering what is next, is over.  Jesus has returned.  

And then it happens again.  This time Jesus tells those who did not scatter that He will not return to them again.  At His ascension, Jesus reminds His followers to wait until they receive what the Father will send them.  Do not leave Jerusalem.  Wait.  Jesus never told his disciples to wait for him after his crucifixion. 

I wonder.  Would Jesus remind His disciples to wait because they will remain on this threshold, in this liminal period, for ten whole days?   Is Jesus, perhaps, encouraging His followers to hang on, to wait patiently and then keep waiting?

The disciples are filled with joy and anticipation of Jesus’ next return, and yet, after the ascension, Jesus will not return in their lifetime.  Yet, Jesus leaves His followers with hope.  Perhaps the disciples spent the ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost
remembering their salvation history.  Perhaps they are remembering other times they were on the threshold of new life.  This hope has been the focus of the Hebrew people since they exited from Egypt into ... into a liminal space like wandering in the desert for forty years.

When God used Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt, God dangled hope among them.  That hope led them through a wall of water.  That hope sustained them for decades as they wandered in circles.   These chosen people of God could have crossed into the promised land in two to three weeks but there were circumstances that prevented them from doing so.  God had other plans. 

God needed His people to wander, to remain in a liminal state until an entire generation died out.  God used this time to change a weak people, chained to slavery, into people strong enough to develop a new land and conquer
those who prevented them from worshipping the One God.  These people had forgotten how to think for themselves.  They forgot how to be creative.  They even forgot how to worship as they should.  Even worse, they had given up hope.  God needed to restore to His people a strong work ethic, the ability to solve difficult problems and the use of their creativity to move forward with eyes focused on God with renewed hope.

This history lesson was repeated every year about the time of Passover so that the Hebrew people would remember the HOPE God gave them.  They needed to remember that times of waiting for the next step were not empty times but times to regroup, reflect, receive fresh hope to anticipate a fruitful future.

Just like their ancestors, these disciples who waited in Jerusalem might have used this ‘liminal’ time, when Jesus left them, for the second time, to asses what they learned, assess their strengths and reflect on the HOPE
that was and is and is to come.  One can only imagine how the disciples felt on the fourth day . . . one day longer than Jesus had left them last time.  Were they becoming anxious?  Were they losing hope?  Or were they taking this time to reflect and plan their next steps so that they would be ready for what was to come next?  I wonder if Jesus, during his 40 day visit, reminded them that there would be a liminal time, a threshold time, a time of waiting that could be very productive.

I wonder.  Have we had liminal periods in our own lives?  Have we known the hope of God’s plan for us and then, either suddenly or slowly . . . silently . . . over a period of time we find ourselves on the threshold of . . . of what?  It’s like our world was going along just fine and then our life changes.  Perhaps the bottom dropped out from under us or life simply became hope-less.  We reached a point where we needed to wait, re-assess our conditions, renew our life purpose, re-direct our thinking, wait . . . and wait some more.

Perhaps you who are reading this is in a liminal space right now.  It’s not an empty time.  Far from it.  It’s a time to review goals and aspirations.  It’s a time to renew one’s commitment to God in Christ and to one another.  It’s a time to wait on the Lord’s leading but that also means taking time to listen. 

This is a time, more than ever, for us to gather weekly to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  By acting on our love for God in Christ and coming into His presence with thanksgiving ... weekly ... the Holy Spirit continues to feed our soul.  That soul-feeding is essential in order for us to see beyond the threshold on which we might be standing. 

Before we realize what is happening, this ‘liminal’ time, this holding time, disappears.  There is so much hope, so much purpose, such a powerful sense of community with one another and with God that one can’t help but make the time to pray and seek God’s direction.  We all need those ‘liminal’ times in our lives to equip ourselves and each other for the next phase in our lives . . . in God’s life for us.

When the disciples experienced the power of the Holy
Spirit at Pentecost, they were ready to explode into the world.  
Keep praying.  
Continue to gather together as one body.  
Imagine.  
Affirm one another as each is called to step over their own personal threshold of liminal space into a new space.  
God  wants to prepare all of us to explode into the world in His time.  Together we all will discern God’s will.  Together we will explode with new life, with fresh purpose, with renewed hope that sustains us all as we journey with God in Christ into new places.  
Hang on to that hope that was and is and is to come as God moves each of us us through this liminal space.  AMEN