Today is the most in-between-est of days.
Between the sadness of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Sunday.
Between the disappointment and the surprise.
Between execution and resurrection.
Between crushed dreams and hope beyond hope.
Between death and life.
Liminal spaces are those places of transition. Where something has been left, but the new thing not yet fully embraced. Liminal is from the Latin for ‘threshold’ – the idea of moving through a doorway from one thing to another.
The space between what was and what will be.
The already and not yet.
Standing in the shallows, not yet swimming, yet not still on solid land.
Flying on a plane, not still at your destination, but no longer where you started.
Tears that last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
The drive between Kibuye, Burundi, and Kigoma, Tanzania used to have a fantastic liminal space. They’ve fixed it now – but for years there was a section of no-man’s-land between the respective border posts. Once you have stamped out of Burundian customs, got your exit papers for the car, etc – there was still about 5 km to Tanzanian customs. In between was a section of really nice, paved highway winding through the hills. The problem came with the fact that in Burundi; you drive on the right, while in Tanzania, you drive on the left. So in that space – where the road is really quite nice and people drive fast – where are you… Burundi or Tanzania?
Neither actually – at least for that 5km stretch.
When you meet another car, do you just try to see what they do? There must be the ‘actual’ border in there – do you try to find it and switch right there? Try to read their plate and guess what their reflex might be? Just go for it and hope for the best? Pick a lane and just stick to it no matter what? (we tried all options – to various degrees of success)
That liminal space – that no-man’s-land – is the already and not yet. You’ve already left Burundi, but not yet arrived in Tanzania.
That’s what today is – but that’s also what followers of Jesus believe this life is.
On Saturday the cross is empty, but the tomb is occupied. We know what will happen – but it’s not happened yet. We’re waiting for what we’ve been told will come.
But right now – this Liminal Saturday – it’s not clear. At least – not clear to us.
That’s what makes it living by faith.
We’ve been told that Jesus will return and put all things right. That God will restore everything. Everything broken will be fixed. Tears wiped away, sickness, sadness, murder, hatred all gone.
But yet – we’re still here. Surrounded by those things on every side.
Chapter 11 In the letter to the Hebrews, speaks all about hope. It lists off about 20 individuals, and groups of people, who lived by faith. This ‘great cloud of witnesses‘ as they are referred to. But even as they lived in faith, they had their eyes fixed on something in the future.
This faith, this belief, also allows us to look back on what has been even when we don’t see it with our own eyes
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.Hebrews 11:3
But still – here we are. In the in-between time. We can see what has been done. We know what we’ve been told will happen.
Yet, still, here we are.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.Hebrews 11:39-40
Over the last several years this day has become so much more meaningful to me. In the past, it seemed like the odd day out. Maundy Thursday is a thing, and Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Then there’s just that Saturday in the middle. The day you get ready for Easter Brunch. But there must be more to it than that.
I think where I’ve landed is that it is our lives. It is what we live. It is the already not yet paradox of this life. It is the tension between promise and realization. Between faith and seeing.
So if you’re looking for a way to refer to the day between ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Easter Sunday’ – maybe try on ‘Liminal Saturday’.
The in-between day.
The day which is our lives.
So, so good. Thank you for this!