Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bicycle Blessing

When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them;

and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose.

Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them;

for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped;

and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them;

for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Ezekiel

By now most of you will have heard of Blessing of the Animals services held in many churches, often around the Feast of St. Francis (October 4th.) What about Blessing of the Bicycles? Yes, some congregations have begun blessing two-wheelers in services held in April or May. In the service held in a Toronto United Church earlier this year bicycles were wheeled down the aisle and sprinkled with our version of holy water and a variation of an Irish prayer:

May the road rise to meet you;

may the wind be ever at your back;

may all your journeying be joyous;

may you and your bicycle be held in God’s hand...

Some clergy have a sense of humour anointing the riders with sun block rather than oil. Toronto cyclists need all the prayerful help they can get! In New York City bicycle blessings have been around for more than a decade. In some communities the blessings coincide with Earth Sunday.

It is November but we have enjoyed some lovely weather this week so our bicycles have been wheeled out a few times for what we assume will be the last rides of the season. It is too dark in the morning so we have chosen after work instead, but with the time change this weekend that option will disappear as well. It's unfortunate because this is actually a lovely time of the year to ride.

Since we had our Ride Your Bike to Church Sunday In late September our new bike rack has looked a little...empty. I hope that in the Spring cycling can be the transportation of choice for some churchgoers.

Do any of you cycle religiously? Any thoughts on why we don't cycle more in our culture? Will you consider riding to church come Spring? Should we add a Bicycle Blessing to our special services roster?


Anonymous said...

I can't say that I understand this. Blessing animals I strongly agree with, because they are living creatures created the same as us. Inanimate objects don't have the same appeal to me as living creatures. Blessing the riders would make more sense.

Nan said...

I'm with you Lori-Ann. I think that blessing bicycles would be over the top.

johnny said...

I do ride my bike often in the spring and summer, and almost always when I play squash at the Bowmanville Fitness Centre during those seasons(riding home is a great way to loosen up after playing).

I often come to the Sunday service from Cobourg, and that is clearly too far to ride!

Blessing bicycles seems a little weird to me.

lionlamb said...

Now folks, your realize that the bicycles don't spontaneously arrive on their own! They come because their riders bring them and the liturgies include prayers for the safety of those riders, understanding on the part of motorists, and commitment to reducing greenhouse emmissions.

I will admit that I chuckled when I read your responses because the first time I did a Blessing of the Animals some years before coming to St. Paul's a grand total of one pet owner showed up. Some people were quite blunt in saying that this sort of blessing was nonsensical. How could I be blessing non-humans? Well, times
and outlooks have changed.

I think I will probably be blessing some bicycles and cyclists next Spring. And if I start with one, I've been there before.

johnny said...

Blessing bicycles....sounds like it has potential for Saturday Night Live.

By all means bless the riders, but for a joke how about blessing the bicycles? I could wheel mine up to the front. You could go way over the top on your blessing. I would love to see the look on the congregation's faces.

I think I've been putting in too many hours at work these days.

Nan said...

Animals and bicycles. How can you even compare them? Bless the riders if you must, but the bicycles????? What will be next???

lionlamb said...

This from reader Cindy who can't quite recall her blogger password:

Just a thought... don't the fishing fleets get blessed at the beginning of the season? Maybe blessing a bike making sure it stays in working order?