“[Moses said to the people,] Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
I was thinking about the phrase “liminal space.” I had never heard it before the pandemic, but now you hear it everywhere. It is a place of transition, a season of waiting and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it change us. Our old world has been left behind, while we are not yet sure of our new existence. This is the realm where God can best teach us, because our false certitudes are finally out of the way.
When this year started, we were hopeful that the pandemic was gone, but nothing seemed to change. Then vaccines started being delivered; again we hoped the pandemic was over, but nothing seemed to change. Then the Delta variant hit, and it seemed we had been moved back to square one. Not the year I was hoping for! I still feel like I stand at a threshold with one foot raised, but I am not allowed to enter.
But look at this passage from Deuteronomy: the Israelites wandered in the desert 40 years! When the slaves fled into the desert, they complained about the conditions and whined about the food. They built an idol to worship, disobeying Moses. But all through that journey God protected them, fed them, and guided them when they started getting it all wrong. When they were finally ready to leave the desert they were fit and disciplined, a band of brothers, trusting God and ready to serve. God says, “Hear, O Israel. Keep these promises in your heart and teach them to your children.” This we can do. Prepare your heart for new days. And trust God to guide you when the path is revealed.
Let us pray...
This song is surely what the Israelites sang as they left their liminal space.O Worship the King
O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!