Worshipping together at this liminal time

Liminal – a position at a boundary or threshold, the transition space between something that has ended and a new situation not yet begun.

As a priest, I am blessed to be present at birth and death, some would say “both ends of life.” My experience is they are both transition points, and though often experienced very differently, they are both “liminal,” both stand between eternity and the life we live here.  There is a similar quiet awe and awareness of being in the presence of something much greater. 

We, as a church, are in a liminal space, not only in the transition from abrupt pandemic closure to post-pandemic reopening, but also between all that we have learned and experienced during that time and how God will use it in our community as we move into the future. We have learned how to worship and gather virtually. Being released from geographic and transport requirements has made it possible for many to participate in the life of this church in new ways. As we regather in-person, there are concerns that virtual worship has become too easy and people will never return to in-person gatherings. Anxiety over attendance and change has produced a number of opinion pieces in the news exhorting churches to end, or significantly curtail, on-line offerings so that people will “have” to physically attend church.

I invite each of you to think of this differently. Gathering in-person is a precious privilege, a grace-filled opportunity.  Virtual options are convenient tools for connecting across distance. In the pandemic, they made a lot of things possible that would not have been, and they have opened possibilities we had not considered. Travel is no longer an impediment to worship or other gatherings. Just this month, one of your vestry members attended the monthly vestry meeting from Jamaica. Nevertheless, while we may not be able to exactly explain it, we know there is a difference between watching a concert, and attending one, between viewing a game and being in the stadium or field house. Who would give up seeing a spouse, children, or friends in-person based on the convenience of a virtual visit? 

Human beings are created in the image of God, God who is revealed as a community of love. Gathering for worship in community is a sacred blessing that is experienced most profoundly in person. I invite you to share in that blessing if it has been a long time since you attended worship in person. Or, to offer the invitation to people who you haven’t seen in worship in a while, and those who have never attended. Trust, that in this liminal time, as we stand in the doorway between what has been and what is becoming, we stand in Christ who said, “I am the Door” (John 10:9 KJV).