Why Not To Go To Church: Life’s Better On a “Bicycle”

In the days of yore, I rode a bicycle, and I took it very personally when people chose long bike rides over church on Sunday mornings.

A local cycling group had a Facebook page where the administrators would post information about upcoming group rides: where to meet, what kind of pace, and how long the journey would be. Since I was a fan of Facebook way back when, I kept up with the pedaling opportunities but never attended. I preferred cruising with a friend around the neighborhood to the “moderate pace” of a 20-mile journey across the county.

One Saturday afternoon, a post appeared about a ride that would begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

What?! I said to the computer screen. That’s when you should be in church!

I typed a long, Scripture-filled response. I re-read it and realized how un-cool it was. I deleted the response. Then I typed a snarky, short sentence about how everyone should just ride on over to my church since worship began at 10 a.m. I re-read it and realized how angry it sounded. I deleted the response. Responding in religiosity and condemnation would only make people pedal further away at a faster speed.

I called a friend and vented about people choosing to ride bikes over worshipping God, and his response was only silence –until he confessed that he, too, planned to go on the bike ride.

When I hung up the phone, I realized that frustration had become hurt. Why was I taking it so personally that people, many whom I didn’t even know, were going on a bike ride instead of going to church? I didn’t know their stories. Perhaps they were Roman Catholic and attended mass on Saturday evening. Perhaps they were going to attend an early worship service.

I didn’t care where or when they worshipped. I just wanted them to choose worship.

Years have passed. I’m no longer on Facebook. The only part of the bicycle I still own is the helmet (Who would seriously want a used helmet?). I no longer yell at the computer screen when I read about activities scheduled at the same time as worship services.

While a lot has changed, the desire I had for all of those cyclists to be in church has not. I still long for people to worship in community.

I also understand why we choose bike rides over worship. Many cyclists declare, as I once did, that life is better on a bicycle. The mind and body have to work sharply with each other to stay safely balanced on two wheels. The wind on one’s face awakens our breath. Movement through Creation testifies to a magnificent Creator. The riders are comfortable with a fellowship of silence. There is indeed a “high” we experience after physical exercise that makes everything feel right in the world.

So often church services leave us with the opposite feeling. We feel closed in rather than free. We are uncomfortable with each other. We leave feeling no different than when we arrived. The Holy Spirit has the power to leave us with a feeling that far surpasses a “runner’s high.” Our congregations have an awesome yet difficult responsibility each week: to take a ride through the greatest story ever told.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus….
Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith…
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering…
Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…
Let us not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some….
*

Neglecting to meet together with the body of Christ can easily become a habit. It is so important for us to have our different communities of friends and family, our “bicycle groups” with whom we enjoy life and participate in activities. Let us be careful not to let any other group replace the fellowship centered in worship of God.

How can we truly enjoy creation if we don’t praise the Creator?

How can we find balance in a chaotic world if we don’t depend on our Savior?

How can we appreciate the air we breathe if we don’t listen for the Breath of Life?

Life may be better on a bicycle, but life is best on the wings of the Holy Spirit. May we be open in our worship services to be changed, and to be better, than we were before we gathered. May our congregations be places of such life, love, and joy, that the choice of where to be is an easy one come Sunday morning.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

*(excerpts from Hebrews 10:19-25, New Revised Standard version)