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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Liminal Space

“There is no rose of such vertu as is the rose that bare Jesu. Alleluia, alleluia. For in this rose conteinèd was heaven and earth in litel space, Res miranda, res miranda.”                                                                  

—From Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols


This year is one of compressed liturgical space. We will celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the morning, and quickly turn to Christmas Eve in just a few hours that same day.


It may be tempting to avoid the compressed time and jump straight to Christmas, but I’ve been reflecting on the gift of liminality and these threshold spaces. Mary, the mother of Jesus accepted the invitation to become the bearer of God and we too have that same invitation.


As someone who has physically borne two children, I can assure you there is a point in pregnancy when it physically feels like one cannot possibly hold the new life that will ultimately come forth in the form of a child. Then you have the long arc of parenting while you allow them to discover and become the people they are called to be.


One does not have to physically give birth to be a God-bearer. In fact, one of the greatest opportunities of the Incarnation is the shared calling that we all must bear God’s holy presence into the world as Christians and followers of Jesus.


What about all the threshold spaces we are invited into? There are countless holy spaces that exist when change is afoot. Some are easier than others. Some are naturally joyful, and others may be profoundly challenging. But the liminality of the experience still promises profound transformation and we need to honor those places rather than avoid them.


When we sit at the bedside of dear people we love as they transition into the nearer presence of God, we are bearing God’s love into that space. We are God-bearers when we welcome people home after they’ve been living away and honoring what might be new for them. We are bearing God when we graciously celebrate a transition for someone we care about, even it comes at a cost for us personally.


Our staff had our last meeting with dear Ruby Merrill on Tuesday. We had a holy moment of liminality to remember wonderful times we have shared with her in over her 35 years of ministry here at St. Mark’s. She also shared the transformation she has experienced through the many relationships she has developed over the years. Ruby has been a God-bearer for many of us and while I will personally miss her in the new year, I give thanks for all she has done for us and wish her well in this new season.


Amidst whatever tasks you still must accomplish before Sunday, I invite you to take a moment and think about who has been a God-bearer for you? What liminal spaces do you want to take a moment to linger in? Christ will be born and is being born over and over again for us who take the time to look.


Peace, Beth +

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