Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Together is a good place to be!

By Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman

March 2024

Pastor's Message for March 2024

As I may have mentioned (more times than is strictly necessary), a few months ago I injured my knee.  It’s not a grievous injury – it doesn’t require surgery and I can still get around.  What I can’t do is go for my beloved afternoon walk/run – or woggle as my children and I affectionately call it (a word meaning walk+jog which I borrowed from soccer great Abby Wambach).  It’s getting better with time and PT, but this small injury has made me much more sedentary than I like to be.  It feels a bit like I’m on hold – just treading water or sitting around waiting for normal life to resume.

It's given me a lot of time to reflect on what it means to be between two things and how to use the in-between time in a way that is life-giving.  

Last month during our council retreat we talked about being in a in-between time as a congregation. Having come through Covid still connected and committed to one another and our congregation, we are also, necessarily, not quite the same community we were before. We’ve had the joy of welcoming some new participants and members, added an advocacy team, and welcomed a new pre-school, a new Samoan congregation, and Feed the Streets to share our building with us. We learned to worship together on zoom and then to worship together well in “hybrid” on-site and on-zoom format.

We have also lost members, some who have died and some who have moved away, and felt the shift of energy as fewer people gather in the building on any given Sunday.

We are not quite what we were before and perhaps not quite sure who we will become.  

Like many congregations and even whole denominations across the country we are in “liminal” time.  Liminal, from the Latin for threshold, is a term coined by the anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep to describe a phase individuals passed through during rites of passage.  In the small communities he studied, rites of passage for coming of age, marrying, or becoming a leader, not only marked but enabled movement from one status to another.  He noticed a distinct “liminal phase” during which individuals were no longer who they had been before, but were not yet who they were becoming.

The term liminality has been broadened and is now often used to describe a normal phase of transition not just in individual lives, but in the life and development of institutions and organizations. It’s a normal part of the life of every congregation.  Especially when it isn’t acknowledged, liminality can raise anxiety.  But entered with courage, curiosity, and compassion, it can be a time of great creativity and life.

During the Sundays of Easter season – from the Sunday after Easter till Pentecost -- our worship will include guided opportunities for reflection and sharing about who we are, what our deepest values are, and where we hear the Spirit calling us forward.  

Til then, please join me and our council in rejoicing in the gift of this community and listening for the voice of the Spirit. 

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow!