Friday, June 13, 2014

Eight Lessons Learned Riding My Bike to Church

I've been riding by bicycle to church a few times a week this summer. It's not a long ride compared to what I used to do for fun in high school. But it's longer than the commutes to school and work I had early in our marriage. There's time to think. 

So here are a few things I'm gleaning for ministry from the 25 mile round-trip.
  1. Warm up beforehand. Stretch. Visualize. It becomes a habit after a while, so when you get started, your head and heart are both in sync. Pray before you engage in any ministry and it will stretch your sense of possibility and center you spiritually for all you are about to do.
  2. Find an even, steady pace. Find a rhythm that's not too fast, not to slow, and you'll be able to stay with it. Change gears as the terrain changes. This will keep your movement steady no matter what the road is like. Your speed will slow uphill and race going down, but if your pace is constant, your muscles will not fail. A constant spirit is faithful and reliable no matter how steep the climb.
  3. Follow the rules of the road. Not everyone does, but you should. Your good example ensures a safer trip for you and minimal anxiety for everyone around you. In ministry the rules aren't complicated: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
  4. The wind can be your best friend. Riding the way the Spirit blows is exhilarating. Everything happens so easily and you cover so much ground in no time at all that you can be tempted to think it's your own doing. Just be careful which wind is at your back. It could be the Holy Spirit, and if so, woo-hoo! Enjoy the ride! But it could be the prevailing winds of our me-first culture. Which suggests...
  5. The wind can be your worst enemy. You'll notice when you're riding against it. There are times the Spirit blows one way but our culture conspires to blow another. If you've got a strong  headwind of institutional racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, or any other -ism that fans the flames of injustice, just drop into a lower gear and maintain a faithful, steady pace. You'll get there. The Spirit's still got your back.
  6. You go farther and faster in a group. You are never at your best when riding alone. In a group you feed off each other's energy and mutual encouragement. You draft off the slipstream the group creates, and everyone uses less energy. You share awareness of potholes and other obstacles. You trade leadership out regularly so no one gets too tired. It's hard, discouraging work to be a Christian by yourself. But together... just. Wow.
  7. Don't wait until you're hungry or thirsty to eat or drink. Wait till you're sucking wind and you've already starved your muscles and dehydrated your body. The regular, weekly feast of the Word in scripture, prayer, fellowship, and communion is like a steady source of energy for ministry to keep your muscles from cramping and your head from getting dizzy. Come to worship even if you don't think you need it. This Sunday would be good.
  8. Cool down afterward. Walk. Relax. Reflect. Check for sore spots that need attention, and take care of them. Deliberate, careful, intentional prayer heals your sore spiritual muscles, brings your servant heart back to its normal rhythm, and helps your soul catch its breath while you reflect with satisfaction on ministry accomplished. Just look what ground you covered! You can now look forward to tomorrow's ride.
What have I missed?

Blessings and Peace.

Friday, June 6, 2014

SOJ at Twin Cities Pride

I've got an exciting ministry opportunity to share with you, and if you're at Spirit of Joy or any of our Twin Cities Disciples congregations, I hope you'll be involved in whatever way you feel called to participate.

We're partnering with First Christian Minneapolis and First Christian St. Paul in Mahtomedi, this year to host a booth at Twin Cities Pride. It will be Saturday and Sunday, June 28-29, at Loring Park in Minneapolis, from 10-6 each day. I want to let you know what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how you can help.

What we're doing
  • Sharing communion, hospitality, a listening ear, and opportunities for prayer with anyone who wants it. This means people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning. It means their family members, their allies, and even just the curious. It means anyone who comes to our booth at Twin Cities Pride.

Why we're doing it
  • The central sign of Christian welcome and love, Communion has often been denied to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. This hurts individuals, and it hurts the whole church.
  • As an Open and Affirming congregation, we want to extend an intentional Christian  welcome to anyone who's ever been shut out or shut up. We want everyone to know the liberating love of God that says, "There's a place for you at Jesus' Table."
  • As Disciples of Christ, we always set an open table. Everyone is welcome: the baptized and the unbeliever alike, gay and straight, rich and poor, women and men, children and adults. We put no conditions on communion beyond a willingness to accept Jesus' invitation to break bread together. 
  • Finally, because Disciples of Christ are relatively unknown in this part of the country, we'd like to let the community know who we are. We want everyone to know there are Christian churches nearby where "all means all."
How you can help

  • Pray for those who have been denied hospitality and welcome as well as for those who have denied them, for volunteers working our booth throughout the weekend, and for our churches in ministry together.
  • Give two hours of your time by serving at the booth. Sign up by clicking here. We are asking for 2-4 people to be at the booth throughout the festival. You can sign up for any of the following, and of course you are welcome to sign up for more than one shift:
    • Four people are asked to set up the booth Saturday morning. This means setting out chairs, setting the communion table, putting out brochures, hanging banners, and more. Dan Adolphson from First Christian in Minneapolis will provide guidance. The communion table will come from First Christian Minneapolis. The cloth to cover it is from my office. I'll also provide the bread. Each church will provide a chalice.
    • One person should be comfortable offering communion (scripts will be available; you don't have to be a clergyperson to do this). 
    • Another should be comfortable listening and offering prayer for those who want it (again, written prayers will be available if you need them). 
    • Two others should be comfortable welcoming people and handing out fans and information about our churches.
If this ministry stirs something positive in you, I hope you'll participate. Click here to sign up. You'll be asked for your email, and you'll get a reminder three days beforehand. 

Blessings and Peace,
David Cobb