August 20, 2012

Shake, Rattle, Roll, and Bless

If you can’t beat ‘em, join them.

That’s what the people of Grace, Pomeroy decided.

Each Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of Harley Davidson motorcycles roll into the small Ohio River town for an annual holiday ride.

The revs of the engines drowned out the singing of the hymns on Sunday morning. The members of the congregation had two choices: hunker down and sing louder or complain to the local city officials.

Or join them. Or at least bless them. The senior warden contacted ride organizers to see if they would like to have their bikes blessed by their new priest. 

With the organizers’ approval, the priest stood on the church steps and blessed the bikers – all 2,307 of them. 

The congregation was amazed at how many of the bikers made the sign of the cross in response.

The church also used the opportunity to connect the bikers with some of their outreach ministries. They sold raffle tickets on the waterfront for biker-friendly prizes. The proceeds benefitted the church’s Undy Sunday, when they give undergarments to people in the impoverished community, and for Soles for Souls, their ministry to provide shoes to needy kids. 

I love how this church was able to move beyond itself and be a model for hospitality to an unlikely community. Too often, we pull inward, unwilling to bend when something rattles our routine. 

But that’s not how the Gospel calls us to respond. I’m reminded of the WWJD bracelets. I suspect Jesus would be right down on the waterfront, alongside the members of Grace, Pomeroy, shaking hands, blessing bikes, and being among all the people.