$25.00- Gift Card from the 99 Restaurant
(2) $10.00- Gift Certificates to Fast Eddie’s Ice Cream
$25.00- Gift Certificate to Vintage Steele Motorcycle Shop
(2) $25.00- Gift Cards to The Marina Restaurant
(2)- Ice Cream Cakes from Friendly’s
$20.00-Gift Certificate to Top of the Hill Grill
$20.00 Gift Certificate from West Brattleboro Pizza
(2) Free 14” Pizza Gift Certificates from Thin Crust Pizzeria
(50)- $25.00 Coupons from Verizon
Mountainside Tattoo – (5) $50 gift cards
There’s something really special about the ride that happens after the blessing that only a few of our regular members are able to participate in, so I’d like to share what it feels like. Some of the most notable aspects are riding as a group and the identity as a “biker.” My dear friend Rev. We Chang once characterized fraternal groups like the Masons, Eagles and others as “church.” What he meant was that they acted as a supportive community where an individual could be vulnerable and also held accountable, a place of personal (and spiritual) growth, as well as a place of comfort and joy. When bikers ride as a group, in some ways we become church. We are all concerned with each other’s well-being, as well as the well-being of the group. We are there to support one another and we are forgiving of one another’s weaknesses, such as the fact that the bike I rode can only travel about 60 miles before needing to stop at a gas station for a fill-up. You may even see groups of bikes pulled over when one has broken down, helping that one rider, even when it means bringing the whole trip to a standstill.
If you watch a group of bikers, you’ll see that they behave somewhat like a school of fish or flock of birds, almost like one body as they move together in a given direction with a single aim. For the bikers to behave in a selfish individual manner would be disastrous, likely resulting in a crash. To survive, they treat each other with respect, concern and according to a set of socially accepted norms. The church also functions best when we aim together toward one goal or one destination, making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
A biker’s identity is an interesting thing. As a member of the group, you are viewed as “one of us” by other bikers, but perhaps as “one of them” by the rest of the world. When I was growing up bikers were bad, tough or cool. (Think Fonzie of Happy Days fame.) Motorcycle weekend in Laconia NH was fraught with rapes, brutal fights and Hell’s Angels riding with shotguns strapped to their handlebars. Now it’s a week-long event that local businesses look forward to, with doctors, lawyers and stock brokers riding their motorcycles to town. Bikers are actually some of the most benevolent, philanthropic people in the world, often organizing events that donate to charitable causes such as Toys for Tots or raising money for cancer or other serious illnesses. Of course, they are also quite good at “RTE” events that are “ride to eat” ice cream or at destination restaurants.
As we rode through the beautiful sun-dappled back roads of Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire last week we would pass oncoming motorcyclists and wave. It is a biker “thing” to always wave at oncoming motorcyclists as a sort of secret signal that we’re in this together, we’re the same, “I’m with you, sister or brother.” It reminds me of the ancient Christians, seeking to hide their identity from persecutors, drawing the sign of the fish in the sand. At the same time, there’s something more open about the wave, something almost evangelistic, like “come on along.” That’s an interesting thing because we’re not waving because we know each other, but rather because we know we have something in common.
So what’s the message in that for the church? We can’t assume folks we pass on the street are all Christians, but we can certainly recognize their humanity. As human beings we are all in this together. We do all have an inherent need for friendships, for support, for love. Perhaps what that means is that we can give a friendly wave to those we meet that says I see your humanity-the ways we are alike. I see your pain-the ways in which we need each other’s support. I see your joy-and I recognize such joy as a gift from God. Come on along. Let’s talk. Let’s share in this journey together.