Friday, April 03, 2009

Bike Rides

So, for the last 6 months or so, I've been hearing about midnight bike rides. They are a trend that started where a bunch of riders get together around 10pm to ride throughout the city. As I understand it, most of the information as to when & where is spread over the internet. It was first told to me by one of my interns, CJ. He was totally excited by it, and I was decently interested. Some of it sounded unreal... why would a bunch of people get together to just bike through the city? Well, some of it is the social part of it. You get to meet a bunch of new people... hang out with a group of people more diverse than most places, and you get to see parts of the city that you probably never saw.

About a month after CJ told me, my brother also started getting into it. He ran in a different town than CJ, but had the same passion and enthusiasm. So after hearing about these crazy rides (and actually having one interupt one of my prayer tours), today I agreed to go to one.

My brother brought me to a ride on the West-side called the Crank Mob ride. It's a once a month ride, and about 500 people showed up!! We went through a bunch of cities; Culver City and Westwood just to name a few. In total, Jeremy and I think we rode around 15-17 miles. Of course, it took us about 4 hours to do it, but that's also because we stopped 2x so people (people like me) could rest, and other people could smoke ("I just rode 10 miles, and I am out of breath, let me inhale some smoke...").

Watching 500 people ride through crowded streets of Westwood was actually one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It's like a wave of people suddenly showing up and disappearing without warning. As they pass by you, they are screaming at the tops of their lungs, honking horns, blasting 4 different songs at once, and ringing those stupid little bike bells. It was funny to see some cars literally stranded in the sea of bikes; stopped waiting for the crowd to pass (which would take a good 5 -10 minutes) There was literally nothing they could do but watch. Many people yelled out as us, "Why are you biking?" "Where are you going?" "What is this?" Store patrons and owners left their restaurants, families came out of their homes, drunk people stumbled out of their bars... to see the spectacle. I could hear many people saying, "It's like it never ends!"

My brother commented to me before the ride started that I would see how it was like we were taking back the streets from the cars, and I suddenly understood as we rode down the street. We outnumbered the cars 100 to 1. It wasn't violent, angry, a protest, or anything... it was just a social event. A good time for people to get together. And as I looked around, I realized, there were no racial barriers here. No social classes. No judging others on what they were wearing, what bike they were riding, what music they were blaring... just commodery.

People would stop to help strangers when others fell, offer tire replacements, or help fixing a bike that broke down. And it was the norm. It wasn't strange, awkward, or uncomfortable.

Around the end of mile 2, I was exhausted!! But a couple people pulled up and encouraged me to keep going, and it would be easier. They were right! I started laughing with them as we rode together, and the ride became easier. I started yelling along with everyone cheering on our ride, and I felt included with the group.


This isn't a perfect model, but as we were driving away, I started wondering, what if Church was like this? Not my church or your church, but Church, the bride of Christ, the witness to the world for what God has taught us?

What if:
... when someone new came to the group, they were welcomed with smiles and warm "hello"s?
... as people fall, others stop to make sure they are ok.
... we, as a group, stop once and awhile to rest, dance, and laugh
... stop divinging our church by race, class, sex, age, intellect, or denomination.
... when someone gets tired, strangers can come alongside to encourage & cheer us on.

If that happened, wouldn't others stop and say, "What is this?" "Where are you going?" "Why Christianity?"

Think about it...

-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

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