“Do not come closer,” he said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” - Exodus 3:5
One of the greatest impediments to our awareness of the holy is our familiarity with what we normalize. While routines provide necessary structure to assist us with the management of life, often we live as though all we have known is all there is. Life is more than a schedule to be managed. We need moments of awe that transcend the mundane and bring us to what is miraculous and possible. Normalcy can become the idol that keeps us idle in life.
As Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, he encountered a burning bush and decided to turn aside to see why it was not consumed. Moses was summoned into sacred space where he was transformed from a tender of flocks to a liberator of people. We too are summoned during this season to turn aside while we tend to the mundane to see the remarkable. Lent is the space created to have an encounter with God that begins with making a decision to follow Jesus to Calvary and ultimately to the empty tomb. Contemplative Richard Rohr describes sacred space as a place of liminality, a call out of “business as usual.” The term liminality suggests being betwixt and between our “not yet” and “soon to be.” We find ourselves somewhere on the threshold of newness, but we don’t know where we are on the journey. Liminal spaces create the necessary dissonance and chaos needed to know that where we’ve been is no longer suitable for where we are going. It is the image of setting sail, leaving the dock of yesterday, sailing in the fog of today, looking with expectation to the sunny port of tomorrow. What should our posture be in liminal spaces? There must be a cessation of activity to lean into the divine moment.
During his encounter with God, Moses was told not to come closer, but first to remove the sandals from his feet. This command by God to Moses was to inform him that he had moved from finite time to divine time. In what ways are we being summoned by God to remove the shoes from our feet? Perhaps God is calling us to renounce the false claims made on us by the world that we accepted - wittingly or unwittingly - that have never served us. It was when Moses turned aside that God called him to something new, something else, and something better. The process was not without questions or struggle. Liminal space can create feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt, but this is the best place for transformation to occur in our lives.
As a congregation we have turned aside to see what God is summoning us to. We are in a liminal space being molded by God for what is ahead. We celebrate past experiences, but now we are called to re-imagine church in the year of the child. Liminal space is not new to our people. We are the sons and daughters of a people who have always known God in uncertainty. During this season may we experience greater clarity and deeper commitment to follow our Lord and Christ sacrificially and faithfully. Let us take our shoes off, collectively, for we are standing on holy ground.