Rector's Ramblings August 9, 2017
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about bicycles lately. I purchased a new bike for Donna as an anniversary present and in the process, as is my slightly OCD way, I read up on all sorts of things regarding bicycles. As she will tell you, I tend to research things thoroughly before I make a purchase or plan a trip. In this case, I haven’t purchased a new bicycle in nearly twenty years, so I had a lot to catch up on.
One of the things that I looked into was helmets. Rule of thumb, although the rule may be influenced by manufacturers, says that that helmets should be replaced every five years or so. We’re at least twice that on Donna’s helmet, so I got her a new one of those, too. Matching colors of course. We have always worn helmets to ride our bikes, and make our children wear them, too. I learned a long time ago, the hard way, how important they are.
Once when I was a youngster, probably ten or so, I had a low speed wreck on my bike and hit my head on the pavement. I wasn’t wearing a helmet and ended up with a concussion. I still remember how awful I felt. I have also known people who have been killed in cycling accidents. My best friend from early childhood moved away when we were around seven. He was killed within a year when a speeding delivery truck hit him while he was riding his bicycle in his neighborhood. It was the first funeral I can remember.
I get nervous when I see people around here riding without helmets. We’ve seen a number of bicycle accidents since we moved here, and any kind of accident while on a bicycle can be deadly without a helmet, especially for people who may not be able to easily recover from an otherwise moderate head injury. I’ve given at least one parishioner a pleading lecture about wearing a helmet for that reason.
Now, even helmets aren’t enough to help in some accidents, but they’re like seatbelts. They can keep an accident from being much worse, and can indeed save lives. They really aren’t uncomfortable, and although they can mess up your hair, it seems a small price to pay. I don’t really understand not wearing one, even if you’re just riding on sidewalks. Most of the bike accidents I’ve seen along Frederica Road involved bicycles on the sidewalks!
As we start back to school, I am reminded that I also need to make a plea for our families to be sure and bring their children around to church now that summer is over. In some ways it’s a bit like the helmet situation. A helmet is no guarantee, and yet it has very specific benefit, nonetheless. Some people may never test the protection of a helmet, but it’s there just in case. At the very least, (and I do mean least – for I think there is much more to it), exposing our children to worship and the basics of the faith is a “just in case” sort of activity.
We don’t teach about the jeopardy of the soul for those who don’t come to church. The clergy may think it from time to time, but we don’t teach it. But we know, I hope, that having a living faith, fed by community and sacrament, is a great gift in our lives. It’s why most parents want their kids raised in the church. Even when we can’t articulate it or fully describe it, we know there is something deep and vast in the Gospel that we want our kids to know; or at least we want them to have the opportunity to know it. And that won’t happen if they’re not exposed to it regularly, and if it’s not a priority.
And I’ll be clear: going to church as a kid is no guarantee that a child will never stray, leave the church, do bad things, or anything else. But a child with a living faith from a family with a living faith is less likely to encounter some of those challenges. There are never guarantees. If we wonder why our kids wander from church when they hit high school and beyond, it’s hard to argue with them if it wasn’t a priority when they were younger.
And yes, I know the challenges involved in getting a family to church. I know the schedules and the activities, and the day to sleep in, and the travel schedules, and all the rest of it. We live that reality in our household too. I never say these things to shame any parent, because I know how hard it is. I just said to someone this week that parenting is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be before I had kids! Of course I’m biased, but I think giving and showing our kids a faith, teaching them the ways of Jesus and Christian community, and showering them with reminders of God’s love for them, is even more important than some of the schoolwork they invest so much time in.
I hope passing on the faith isn’t a “just in case” mentality at all, but rather a gift we can’t wait to share. I know it can be painful, but we try to make it as pain free as possible. We’re working to make sure this year is another wonderful one for our kids and families, and I hope we’re making it easier to get motivated on Sundays. I think it’s worth it. We put helmets on our kids when we’re teaching them to ride because we know there will be falls and accidents. Life is like that too. The Church certainly has a lot to offer as we prepare our kids for the falls and accidents of life yet to come. And come to think of it, the Church can help us all with such things. See you in church!
God of all wisdom and knowledge, give your blessing and guidance to all who teach in your Church, that by word and example they may lead those whom they teach to the knowledge and love of you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.