Liminality, Jesus and the Desert

Are we open to spending some time this Lent in focused and intentional liminality?

Well, much to the disgust of certain among us, next Sunday it will come time for me to preach again at my church. I apologise ahead of time for all the souls I will be leading into hell with my heresy and ‘bible denying’…but preach I will and this is what I will be exploring; the liminal space that God calls us all into and only in which can God truly speak to us.

Liminality comes from the Latin, Limina which means Threshold – that place that is neither in, nor out – a place all of its own that defies geographic or locationally based descriptors. Jesus, when he entered the desert and encountered his testing, entered into just such a liminal space – times of greatest change for each one of us occurs in those times, places adn spaces that are neither what life has been nor what it will be.

For example – The Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years; they were no longer slaves, and yet they were not yet the nation Israel they would one day become. Jona, in the belly of the fish – was not yet the prophet, but was also no longer the runaway. I was made redundant from my job with a major charity early last year – and it was a time of great pain and angst for me – questoins about my future and my role on this planet abounded for me – If I was not this, then what was I? The journey through that time of questioning and testing ended by delivering a whole new potential future for me that I had not even contemplated and would never have done had I remained employed in the same job. Sometimes we need to be rocked out of our comfortablity to be awakened to the mystery that is the call of discipleship in our lives.

Jesus entered into this state of liminality of his own free will adn fully knowing that ahead of him lay a time of testing and trial, but out of which he knew would grow whole point of his mission – his representatoin of us, having lived as one of us and endured all that is thrown at us but having overcome where we could not, and can not. Often God shakes us out of our own softness and self induced stupours – but what if we were to openly accept times of trial, times of liminality? What if we didn’t wait for God to push us, but we entered in willingly?

Mike Frost in this video asks if we have lost the ability to nurture beauty and wonder and foster new possibilities in our communities? Does God invite us into forced disequilibrium and liminal spaces where we will encounter Godself more fully and completely…much the same as the desert fathers, Francis of Asisi, Brother Andrew adn all those who left all to allow themselves to be moved along in life by the direction of the Spirit? 

Are we open this Lenten period to willingly enter into a time of liminality and to encounter God in spaces where we are not in control?

12 thoughts on “Liminality, Jesus and the Desert

  1. It [Ash Wednesday] was established as the first day of Lent by [Pope] St. Gregory the Great (590 to 604). LOL.

  2. Thoughtful article, Greg. I’m not a lent person, but I understand the need for occasional separation from comfort and the need for change. We’ve been in that zone for the last 18 months, and I must say God has been amazing in His generosity and certainty.

  3. Hey Greg – those times when we are in this space of trying certainly break us and make us. After the most tortuous and angst ridden of times, when I had been ground down by the vicissitudes of circumstance and the viciousness of a particular person.

    Through that process, I was blessed with the most profound scourging and revelation of the redemption of all Mankind. At the point where I had run out of strength, of answers, and of fight, I just completely gave up and asked Jesus what the answer was – and he said quite clearly, “Ian, when you have truly laid down your life, then you will look up to everyone.”

    “Even Selina?”

    “Especially Selina.”

    But as for Easter and Lent and such – can’t find it in my Bible buddy – but as Sergeant Pepper said, “whatever turns you (Catholics) on.” But I had to giggle at the historical link to Pope Gregory the Great and God’s great sense of humor.

  4. Am i the only person who didn’t know the word “liminal”?

    Great post, and I’m sure it will be a great message. And great to hear about your…eh.. liminal experience….

    I’m actually not into Lent at all. (Not saying that to boast – just not into the church calender.)

    But I think fasting and taking time off for contemplation etc is a great idea.

    And I’m glad I learned something. I’ll have to use the word a lot in conversation to see who knows it….haha

  5. Psalm 40

    I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
    2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
    3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

  6. This type of mystical, emotional nonsense has no Biblical bases and should be avoided. 40 years in the wilderness was a time of banishment/ God’s punishment due to lack of faith. God has provide His leading in the Bible – we dont need to go into empty spaces or empty our minds… we are called to fill our minds with the things of God, meditate on His word, seek Him and righteousness.
    To teach otherwise is to lead men astray!

  7. Speaking of Catholics – enter U2. Don’t you love David? He could kill his mate, shag his wife, run Israel and still find time to write psalms – what a guy! The election of God obviously is much higher than our sin.

    Bones, in 2001 at a prayer meeting, the Word came that God was going to give songs of salvation, songs which would contain the Power of salvation such that those who heard would be so moved as to believe and receive. A while back the Lord added to this when the Word came to me that we had YET TO LEARN THE NEW SONG but that he would give to us The New Song and then sing us to the world.

    I have experienced the privilege of God having sung me – I have a voice which is apparently quite good- and have had training and experience in public singing, but on the occasions when The Lord has taken over and ‘sung me’ – the voice does things otherwise humanly impossible – and the sense of joy is off the charts, and other Xians either get utterly buzzed or really pissed that Go would use someone like me when there are much more talented people about.

    These are but foretastes of the glory and redemption to come.

    As to “Still have not found what they are looking for” – such angst ridden unbelief is atypical of those who make money with words – as once they have “found it”, there is only joy, and that does not market at all well, people for the most part prefer the happenstance and vanity of happiness “baal-lanced” by unhappiness. Just ask Dr Phil…

    An old confederate from WOF days wrote recently that he was enjoying his journey to his eventual awakening to who he was. I could not resist giving him prod and suggesting he was asleep at the wheel. I guess he has still not found what he is looking for either – but Babylon is like that – lots of ‘options’ but not much in the way of actual reward – lots of would, hay, and stubble to be consumed by the fire by which they are saved.

    There is big money in unbelief – a hole industry, more’s the pity.

    Nice to see you quote the New Living Bones – I would encourage you to seek out a copy of Victor Alexander’s amazing Aramaic Bible translation. Here is Colossians 2, Paul addressing the issue of the appeal of ritual. Note especially v4, 8, 14, 16, 17 – 23 – especially 23.

    1. I wish that you would know, but I have endeavored bravely on your behalf, and on behalf of those in Laodicea, and on behalf of many others, those who did not see my face in the flesh.
    2. So that your hearts may be full of love, and that you may approach in love all that precious grace, and the edifying knowledge of God’s Sermon, of the Father and of Christ,
    3. Through Whom are sanctified all the consecrations of wisdom and knowledge.
    4. This then I am telling you so that no human being should mislead you by the redemption through words.
    5. For even though I am gone from you in the flesh, however in the Spirit I am with you, and I am overjoyed to see your principles and the earnestness of your faith in Christ.
    6. Whereas you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, then go forth according to Him.
    7. Whereas you validated your roots and are fortified by Him, and you persist in that Faith that you have learned, so as you may be enriched by Him in devotion.
    8. Beware that no human being saves you by philosophy and empty deception, according to human learning and according to the doctrines of the world and not of Christ,
    9. Within Christ the entire physical manifestation of God is embodied.*
    10. And within Him you are also included, so that He is the head of all thrones and powers.
    11. And through Whom you are circumcised the circumcision not of the hands, but by the shedding of the flesh of sin, by the circumcision of Christ,
    12. And you were buried with Him through the baptism, and within Him you rose up together, so as you may believe in the power of God Who resurrected Him from the house of the dead.
    13. And you who were dead in your sins and uncircumcised in the flesh, He resurrected you with Himself and He forgave us all our sins,
    14. And He voided with His commandments the conditions of responsibility,* those that were against us and He removed them from our midst and piled them on His Cross,
    15. And by sending out His apostles from His body, they spread [His commandments] to all the thrones and authorities, and He put them all to shame by the manifestation of His Trinity.
    16. Thus let no human being goad you with respect to eating and drinking or by the designation* of feasts, and argue about months and Sabbaths,
    17. These things were mere shadows of what was destined, Christ however is the reality.*
    18. And let no human being through the gentleness of spirit instill in you the obligation to worship the work of angels, anticipating what cannot be seen, and to vainly accommodate their own ideas of the flesh,
    19. And [they that] consider not the head by whom the entire body is guided and held together with its appendages and members and is nurtured in God’s discipline.
    20. If you are dead to the principles of the world, together with Christ, why are you, since you live like Him, judge everybody according to the world?
    21. Do not go near this, do not taste that and do not hold on to the other,
    22. These that are recommendations that come to nothing,* and that are commandments and the learning of humanity.
    23. And they appear to possess the manifestation of wisdom, a gentle outlook and submission to God, and they do not relate to the body or any form of reverence, except to what appears appropriate in the flesh.*
    *2:9 Lit. Ar. idiomatic construction: “Within Whom is constructed all Godhood bodily.”
    *2:14 Reference to the Law.
    *2:16 Lit. Ar. idiomatic figure of speech: “Divisions.”
    *2″17 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: “The body.”
    *2:22 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: “The worth that spoils.”
    *2:23 A reference to the appeal of ritual.

  8. Jason – you are right, but beware of verse 20! Your post logged at 5:55am here – 555 is grace perfected in Biblical gematria, or so I am informed. There is big money in angst and unbelief.

  9. The thing I love about this site is I am further encouraged to delve ever more deeply into the depths of wisdom and to gain greater understanding of how it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ was suborned by the traditions of men and doctrines of devils which became so established in the canon of the Catholic by many of the Church ‘fathers’ (“Call no man ‘father'”). Gregory of Nazianzus, aka Gregory the Theologian, is particularly interesting with his perfidious trinity doctrine.

    We are all of us made in the image of God – God is not divided – here O Israel, the Lord your God is ONE GOD! The people who made up the Trinity were imbued with Greco/Roman Pantheism – many gods rather than ONE GOD, so as with so much, in fact all of what amounts to tradition, it has occult pagan character and beginnings, and cannot be sanctified, only destroyed like the golden calf it is. Remember one of the most salient lessons of the OT is that AARON, chief priest, made a golden calf BECAUSE THE PEOPLE DEMANDED IT!

    Our Tri-unity is Body, Soul and Spirit, but as God is Seven Spirits too, then so must we be, if indeed we be made in His image, His express reflection. How can we be seated at the right of majesty on High in Christ and yet be having this earthen vessel experience too? If you learn the answer to that you will know how it was that God could be made manifest as Word made flesh imbued with Spirit.

    Nazianzus is interesting – Nazi Anzus – Australia, NZ, US Defense Pact. Interesting considering the Nazi invasion of America – operation Paperclip – when a reported 88 top Nazi Siontists (actually more like 2000) were snaffled by the American Nazis, while many of the Nazi hierarchy were ‘disappeared’ to South America.

    Just to digress and for those who do not know it, WW2 was effectively a Germanic civil war, eventually involving Russia, which was orchestrated to destroy Christianity in Germany and much of Europe – to which end it has proven to be hugely successful, such that the most Christian country in Europe is now the least.

    The Germans however have the most advanced of everything – my Audi Allroad is so slick! If they had Foo Fighters in 45, what have they got now folks? This also puts the lie to technological advances and monetary wealth in the current climate being blessings from God. To a junky a kg of Heroin would seem to be a blessing….

    To further digress, imagine what the average TV fed village idiot will think when the Montgolfier Bros of the 21stC show up with their new fangled flying machines to save the planet from destruction? Remember “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court? Imagine what would happen when “people of the future” turn up in Titanium skinned Foo Fighters to save us from our diabolical selves?

    There’s a Star Man waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds – Siriusly folks – Rain Man is comin’…goodbye love…let all the children boogie…la, la la la la la, la la la…its all lala land folks…all Babylon…but not for much longer…thank God…I only hope He shortens our liminality, rather than lengthen it….LOL

  10. Mystical emotional nonsense? So Jesus taking time out to be alone with God? Nonsense? Liminality is nonsense? Elijah in the cave? Ezekiel down the well? Jesus in the desert? Paul, Peter in gaol? John on Patmos?

  11. Ian, if I lived in your town, I’d be having coffee once a week!
    You amaze me….
    Okay, you got me. I’m going to look into this Aramaic version.

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