Ride Like the Wind!

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Okay, so talking about Life as a Spiritual Adventure, a friend and I will be embarking on a spiritual adventure this Friday, October 3. We will be doing a 100 mile bicycle ride for a ministry called Church Beyond Walls. Church Beyond Walls is a ministry in Providence, RI, which ministers to peoples’ spiritual and physical hunger. CBW gathers for outside street worship every Saturday at 2:00 PM in Burnside Park, right next to Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence.

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Every Saturday ALL are welcomed to worship, and to the sacrament of holy communion. The invitation includes: “Come you who love Jesus and you who wish you could; come you who are sober, and you who are not; come you who are straight and you who are gay; you who are homeless and you who have a place to rest your head; you who are citizens, and you who are not; here at this table we are all citizens of the reign of God.” Every time I speak those words of invitation to the table, I am deeply moved, because I feel that we are all participating in a foretaste of the feast that is to come – the heavenly feast – where ALL the people of God are truly welcome. After all have received the eucharist the communion table becomes a table for an actual meal, just as any church has a time of fellowship and hospitality following their time of worship. I too wait in line with the crowds of fifty to a hundred who gather each week at CBW. When I receive my lunch I sit and have conversation with some of CBW’s other members. The conversations are often very intense. All I can think of during these conversations is one of my favorite post-resurrection stories of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who meet a stranger who walks along beside them, share in conversation, and then share a meal together. It wasn’t until they broke bread together that they recognized the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread. Week after week as I break bread with those who come to CBW I see Christ in my lunch companions (companion literally means “one with whom you break bread”).

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Church Beyond Walls was started two years ago by a young Episcopal priest, Rev. Edmund Harris, and the people of Epiphany Episcopal Church in East Providence. I first heard about it a year ago, when I met Father Edmund at a meeting of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches. When he told me about CBW I told him he should meet my close friend Stephanie Smith, a Lutheran pastor who is involved in a very similar ministry in North Hampton, MA, called Cathedral in the Night.

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Cathedral in the Night is a ministry partnership between Lutherans, Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ. Stephanie came and preached at our church, and showed a slide show about the ministry of Cathedral in the Night. Our church awarded Cathedral a grant, and also did a “field trip” to North Hampton to help out, prepare the meal, and learn more about this ministry. We were very moved to get involved, but as one woman from our church said, “It’s too bad Cathedral is not closer, so we could participate more frequently.” Ironically just a couple of days later, she gave me an article she had read in the Providence Journal about CBW, exclaiming, “There IS such a ministry closer to us that we CAN get involved in!” The article was all about CBW. Ironically Father Edmund moved to Seattle last June, but not before he passed the baton to a young man named Waylon Whitley, who is now the coordinator of CBW. Waylon and the board of CBW have put together a team of clergy and lay people, Episcopal and Lutheran, who participate in this ministry together.

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My friend,Eveling Vasquez, and I love the openness and expansiveness of CBW’s ministry. Eveling and I are also both avid cyclists. So…we got this brilliant idea: why not use our gifts of energy, creativity, athleticism and enthusiasm to raise awareness and also badly needed funds for Church Beyond Walls? That is exactly what we are doing!
How can you help? You can join us for our 100 mile ride this Friday at 8 AM at First Lutheran Church of East Greenwich, 124 Division Street. OR you can support us by praying for us, and sponsoring us in any amount. (Cash or checks can be made out to First Lutheran Church, who will get matching funds and present one grand total check to Church Beyond Walls). We will receive some matching funds from Thrivent Financial.
I am a bit anxious about completing this ride. Eveling is 27 and I am 54 – exactly twice her age! But I am also excited about this spiritual adventure we are embarking on together. The following passage from the Jewish prophet Isaiah gives me inspiration:

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“Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall ride (actually walk, but I changed it to “ride”) and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Also the words from Psalm 103: “The Lord satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’ s.” (I am praying for THAT:) Tune in next week to see how this adventure turns out!

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Today may you see God in all you encounter,
and may you reflect God to all you encounter.

Pastor Linda Forsberg, Copyright September 29, 2014 (The Feast Dy of Saint Michael, the Arch Angel and All Angels)

Photo credits: CBW sign; CBW gathering; CBW altar; my friend Steph Smith and me, cycling in Nashville; Eveling Vasquez cycling; me cycling; me standing at the spot the Olympic torch is lit; my bare feet at the ORIGINAL Olympic starting line! (originally runners would run totally naked, including bare feet of course:); me with Wings at Deborah Faith’s Woman Power Party!

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