09 July 2011

Remebering How to Ride

Zombie Bike Ride Seattle
Photo by Matt Wynne
I haven't ridden my bicycle in over a year.  Getting on after that amount of time caused my heart rate to skyrocket, especially when my husband led me out toward the main road.  Still wobbly and unsure of which way to turn the nobs on the handlebars in order to shift up or down, I followed after him cursing under my breath the whole way.  Eventually we made our way into a more secluded area where we didn't have to pedal so quickly and I could experiment with shifting gears without worry of falling into traffic.

When I was a child, I'd ride my bike with great freedom.  I had no gears, and pedaling backwards made the bike stop when I needed it to.  This adult bicycle with lots of gears causes me trepidation, but I am determined to re-learn how to ride a bike since this is my husband's desired form of exercise and I want to be with him.

This experience of getting back on a bicycle after years of driving most places, (or taking the bus when the car was in the shop) gives me pause.  How sheltered we are in our cars!  We really are cut off from the natural world, and we have a barrier set up between us and the people around us.

My husband says there is a theory that we would all be better drivers if we had to ride motorcycles or scooters everywhere.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  In a car we have a false sense of security.  The walls around us and the steering wheel in our hands makes us think that we are invincible.  Nothing can hurt us, so we get a bit lazy behind the wheel.  We don't stop fully at the signs.  We charge through a red light claiming it was still yellow.  We hold a drink in one hand and our cell phones in the other, allowing our knees to steer us to our desired destination.  Then something happens, and we wake up in the hospital bed wondering how someone else could have the audacity to cause us pain.

Dear ones, let us no longer be deceived.  We are not invincible in a car.  Neither are we in a church.
Zombie Bike Ride Seattle
Photo by Matt Wynne
The castle walls have given us a false sense of security.  Our seemingly impenetrable fortress made us comfortable, and in our comfort we have forgotten what it means to be mobile.  We don't know what it means to actively share the gospel with the people around us because we've been in our own little bubble for so long.  Like the drivers on the road who treat other drivers like part of the scenery, the church in America has forgotten what it is like to look other drivers in the eye.

When we're on a bike, we can stop to say hello.  At the crosswalk we acknowledge one another and make all kinds of conversation.  It is nearly impossible to multitask, and that is a very good thing.

What would happen if the church got back on the bicycle instead of the closed up walls?  Perhaps the vibrations we feel in our congregations is simply the fear of going mobile again.  I know that re-learning how to ride a bike can cause a fear response within us.  Maybe that's why we're fighting so much.

Take courage, dear ones!  We are not alone on this journey.  Our Beloved's favorite way of being made known is along the pathway.  Remember Abraham & Sarah?  They were constantly traveling and sharing the God of the universe with those who took them in along the way.  Consider the Hebrew people in the days of old.  As Moses and Miriam led them through the desert, they learned the most about.  They experienced what it meant to be the beloved people of God.  Remember Jesus.  He spent most of His earthly ministry traveling through the villages, preaching the good news that God was in their midst, calling the people to a new way of living together in love, and healing everyone who desired it.  The apostles did the same.

Our Lord loves to be in relationship.  Relationships are strengthened while navigating the unfamiliar together.  We can share, and live, the gospel more effectively if we leave our walls behind. 

What might this way of doing church look like?  In a blog titled Allergic to BS, one of my spiritual brothers poses several questions that may help us imagine a mobile community of Christ-followers.  It's ok to have a little trepidation as we enter into the new generation of church (if that's what we'll continue to call it).  A little fear will help us to seek wisdom and direction.  We ask more questions when we're nervous than when we're confident about what we're doing.

In the midst of this transition, though, I pray that we will be given courage to do what needs to be done.  May we trust that our Lord knows exactly where to lead us so that our fear never paralyzes us.  May we listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and go where She calls.  May the mark of Christ found on our foreheads be outwardly apparent in our words and actions throughout the earth.

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