Ponderings with Doug – March 20, 2020

Your routine is messed up, right? You want to go out to eat and can’t? You want toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. You can’t find them. Your kids or grandkids are bored out of their little minds and running around like wild Canaanites. You might be wondering why. You could be afraid that you know why. You are checking your temperature. You have joined a secret Facebook group that is updating the toilet paper supply at various locations. You have entered the Liminal Zone.

We are living in liminal time. The words liminal and liminality are both derived from the Latin limen, meaning a threshold. Liminal time is a way of describing “not yet” time. At the threshold you are not outside, but you are not inside the house either.

There are real life illustrations of this kind of time. Being in the Atlanta airport between your flights is being in a liminal time and space. No one hangs out at the airport. The airport is the place you taken so that you can be taken to someplace else. It is not the destination, it is a stop along the way.

Being pregnant is an example of a liminal time. There was the time before pregnancy and after pregnancy, the baby. Being pregnant is not the goal, but the time that leads to the child. It is an important time in a larger process.

Living life while everything around you is closed. That is liminal time. We won’t stay this way forever. Life will return to a new normal. Baseball season will open. Football teams will finish spring practice. Joe Burrow will be selected first in the NFL draft. Some things will change. I hope the wise sages will figure out what to do next time.

For now, take a deep breath and enjoy taking the deep breath. We can’t run around. We can’t meet for a dining adventure. We can’t do lots of stuff we could do last week. We are forced into liminal time. Face it with a smile. Enjoy it. Use it to do those things you “never had time for.”

The church knows about living in liminal time. We have done it since the Ascension of Jesus. He left and promised to return. We are still waiting. You can call it eschatological hope, or liminal time.

We preachers are in strange liminal time. I did church last Sunday before the Governor’s order went into effect. But now, the doors are shut! They won’t let me into nursing homes, rehab centers or hospitals. I can send text messages and make phone calls. I have already recorded my sermon for this Sunday. We will release a worship service at 10:45 on Sunday morning on our website www.fumcnla.org. It is not the same as being there!

Ecclesiastical liminal time is driving me nuts (it was a short trip).

So Sunday week, March 29 at 10:00 a.m. …that is next Sunday folks….we will host drive-in church. First United Methodist Church will move to the corner of St. Clair and Williams Avenue. You can park in the field, sit in your car and tune your radio to 95.9 KIX Country – KNOC. If you like what the preacher says, turn on your emergency flashers. If you really like what the preacher says, blow your horn. We will even figure out how to take admission. I mean the offering! If you sneak people into the service in your trunk, you will be offered grace!

The musicians and I will be live on stage. You can hear it all from the germ free safety of your car. Just like the drive ins of old.
Drive in church at the corner of Williams and St. Clair on Sunday March 29th at 10:00 a.m.

Oh, I didn’t tell you, one way to combat liminal time is do something different.

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