Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bike trips and church

I was going through some old photos - all photos are old - I know. Today's "photo albums" are stored somewhere on the "cloud" and can be seen anytime on ipads or phones or facebook. Going through old snapshots is a thing of the past. Anyway, that is what I was doing. I came across several photo albums chronicling the bike treks a fellow pastor and I led in the 90s. We recruited our youth groups and some of their friends and we mapped out week long rides throughout New York and New England. They were great times. I was remembering there were some hard times, too. There were conflicts, and injuries, and leader dysfunction that led to wrong turns leaving us miles from the right path.  The theme of most of our trips was community because we believed these bike trips of 20 or so kids and adults were a microcosm of the church. On these trips we had to work together; we had to work out our conflicts with each other because we needed to work together every day. We needed people to come with us simply to support and help out as some of us rode bikes, 40,50 or even 100 miles in a day. At the beginning of the week, we assigned every rider to a smaller group. These groups rode together through the day. This is where a lot of the friction developed. Some of the riders were stronger than others. The rule was the lead rider had to keep the last rider in sight at all times. This slowed the faster riders down. The principle was the whole group got to the destination together - it didn't matter who was first. It was a hard lesson to learn. I remembered one of our leaders who was in my group on one trip didn't speak to me all night after we got to camp because she thought I was not waiting for her (she was right although I did not want to admit it at the time). The bike trips were a lot of work; it was hard riding so far with so many every day. There was plenty of fun and laughter, too, at breaks and meal times and around the camp every night. We grew close as we ate together, laughed, worshiped, and worked out our conflicts. Which meant admitting our mistakes and owning up to our weaknesses. Our Bible studies tried to use our experiences during the week as a window to understand better what Scripture taught us. By weeks end, we arrived at our destination. After a closing meal and worship time, we said our good-byes and went home. Back to our families and churches. I hope we were able to put what we had learned in a week of biking and living intensely with other Christians into practice. I hope we were able to better understand the bigger picture of the church where we work together to make sure we all get to the destination that we try hard to keep in view.