Dear Dyersburg FUMC Family,
By now I hope that you are aware that our bishop, Bill McAlilly, has directed the churches of the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences to suspend in -person worship through the end of May. While I am disappointed—as I’m sure many of you are—that we are not able to meet in person at this time, my soul also rests fully in the knowledge that our congregation is bearing witness to God’s love and goodness like never before. Dyersburg FUMC is the being the church outside the walls, holding tight to the ministries of love that have long-since served our community, and finding new ways to be in ministry for a new time.
Were I to list the ways that I have seen the church being the church, I could fill up our newsletters until the end of time. I am so grateful for all of you and your faithfulness to God, your neighbor, and the mission of the church to make disciples for the transformation of the world!
In my prayer time this morning, I read a meditation by Father Richard Rohr about liminal space. Liminal space describes times and places when we find that we have left something behind, but have not yet discovered what is coming next—much like where we find ourselves now. We are no longer living in the world to which we have become accustomed, but we don’t yet know what is emerging. Rohr reminds us that “in such space, we are not certain or in control.” But rather than being frightened by our lack of control, the invitation of liminal space is to trust that God is fully in control of what is emerging.
In the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, God says to the people through the prophet, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Notice that God doesn’t say, “I need you to do a new thing.” God says, “I am doing a new thing,” and invites us to perceive it. In the course of my life, I have had the privilege of perceiving God doing new things for me or for my family, and of watching others perceive the new thing that God is doing in their lives or in the lives of their families. But never have I had such a profound experience of being part of God’s gathered people who have the chance to perceive together the new thing that God is doing for all of us.
When we are in a liminal space, our natural reaction is to try to bring back what was before, to return to the ways that make us comfortable and the ways where we know how to function and succeed. But the beauty of liminal space is that while it gently invites us to acknowledge and grieve the way things were, it also allows us to open our eyes wide to what God is doing next.
Friends, God is doing something new. Something glorious is emerging out of this in-between time; something that only God can bring forth. My prayer this morning during my quiet time was that God would open our eyes to this new thing. My prayer for us is that we don’t miss this chance to work and live into this new thing that God is doing. God is doing a new thing. Let us perceive it and be swept up in it, for the sake of God’s name and God’s glory!
In Easter joy, Mary Beth