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A Sermon

By Emilie Smith

When Reverend Emilie Smith appeared on the cover of a Vancouver biking magazine wearing her clerical vestments and hoisting her bike above her head it created a stir at the reverend's home parish. Some people at St. James' Anglican even called for her resignation.

What became apparent is that there is, to use Smith's words, "a lot of diversity (and controversy) around the appropriate use of church duds - what is holy? where is the boundary between sacred and profane?" There was also an outpouring of support for the Reverend from within and beyond the parish.

She is very pleased to still be ministering at St. James'. The following piece is adapted from Smith's article in the December/January issue of Momentum magazine.

Dear friends, we have a problem. We've convinced ourselves that life is not possible without heavy, noisy, smelly, destructive machines. We are comfortably commuting our way toward an unhappy ending. We don't even think about it, we just drive; passively delivering our bodies from door to door.

So what should we do? First and simply, we have to walk away from the beasts. I know it's not quite that easy for everyone, but at some point we'll just have leave them behind. We can't afford to sacrifice this precious earth for our temporary convenience. The rest of humanity - the majority of whom don't own cars - can't afford for us to live like this either.

You see, these are holy matters. So we have to walk away from the beasts and back into the arms of the God of love. We have to repent, to return, to come again into another way of being. We are invited by the one who came to teach us to love at all costs, to risk everything for the sake of love, to put aside all that harms the good creation. We have to reconnect with the sacred web of life. Then begins the joyous revolution of imagination, behavior and relationship.

Embodied love

Because we cyclists are self-propelled we cannot live in numbness to our bodies or to the rest of our environment. We know how we feel when we're working hard or riding fast, whether we're exhausted, cold, thirsty, on-fire, full of life; we live with a deep creaturely awareness of ourselves. We are also in touch with our physical surroundings. We know where the earth sinks and rises, where she's rough or smooth or where the air is salty. We know the feeling of rain or snow on our skin. We know what it's like to have the cold wind tear through us, or to have the heat smother us. Cyclists have no choice but to understand themselves as an interconnected part of the living, breathing creation, riding on the very breath of the holy.

Yet the Holy, in the Christian path, is also experienced in fragility, vulnerability and brokenness; in the ultimate knowledge that we are finite beings. All cyclists know this sooner or later, when we hit the pavement, or when one of the beasts hits us. We know scrapes and bruises and we know exhaustion and pain. We know fear and loss of control.

In this courageous acceptance of fragility there is a moment of grace. As faulted and sinful as the rest of the gang, cyclists are somehow searching for a more fruitful relationship with other beings. We are marked with joy as the infusion of God's love carries us out into the world every day, on our own two fragile wheels of love.

This article appeared in Geez 02.