A Blessing of the Bicycles

House for All Sinners and Saints' 4th Annual Blessing of the Bicycles (all photos courtesy of Amy Clifford)

Urban biking is not without peril.  Many of my parishioners rely exclusively on human-powered transportation and do so while competing for road space with motorized vehicles.  As a way of acknowledging the inherent goodness of God’s gifts of life and health and the humble but elegant bicycle we decided to conduct a Blessing of the Bicycles for the entire Denver cycling community (this is the 4th annual!).

This event was open to all regardless of religious affiliation, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, fat or thin tires, and brand of bike. We even welcome unicyclists and Unitarians. As we swung our thurible of incense over the Schwinns and Cannondales we do so as a human community seeking God’s blessing and protection for all who brave our city streets on two wheels.

And the wheel was lifted above the people...

We began our Blessing of the Bicycles with a reading from scripture

A reading from the Prophet Ezekiel:

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.

Holy wisdom, Holy words. Thanks be to God.

 

Blessing of the crutches and canes.

We moved then into the prayers and blessings, but not before also blessing other things that aid human-powered transportation: crutches and canes!

 

Aspersion with handle bar tassels.

Let us pray,

 

Present in a world groaning under the excesses of consumption we acknowledge the inherent goodness of non-motorized human powered transportation and give thanks for the simple beauty of the bicycle. God of life, Hear our prayer .

Present in a community filled with children we pray for those learning to ride. Keep them smart, safe and visible on their neighborhood roads. God of life, Hear our prayer.

Present in a community filled with strife we pray for the victims of road rage, and bike theft.  And we ask for the strength to forgive mean people and jerks who cut us off in traffic. God of life, Hear our prayer.

Present in a world of work we pray for those who build, repair and clean our bikes and those who rely on bicycles to earn their living.  Bless those who choose to not drive to work and those for whom driving isn’t even an option. God of life, Hear our prayer.

Present in a community of beautiful diversity we ask your protection and blessing on all who ride; Pedi cabbies, weekend warriors, athletes, homeless folks, students, children, eco-warriors, bike co-op anarchists, messengers and all the others who take to the Denver streets, bike paths, parks and mountains.  Keep us safe as we ride. God of life, Hear our prayer.

We now observe a moment of silence for all who have died while riding…God of life, Hear our prayer. AMEN

A thurible made entirely out of parts from a vintage Schwinn. (Thanks to Humble Walk Church in Minneapolis!)

Now receive this blessing and bless one another by repeating each phrase after me as we bless you with water and incense:

May the road rise to meet you…..  May the wind be ever at your back.  ….May all your journeying be joyous. …. And until we meet again ….may God hold you…. and your bicycles….. in the palm of God’s hand.

Go in peace and safety.

Amen.

We followed the blessing by a group ride around the neighborhood, returning to church for some pizza, red velvet cake and a keg of Fat Tire Ale. A free community party!

Group ride around the Park Hill neighborhood!

 

pizza, red velvet cake and Fat Tire Ale!

About Nadia Bolz Weber

I am the founding Pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. We are an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination. Learn more at www.houseforall.org

  • http://www.goodshepherd-naperville.org/ Glen Wagner

    Very cool. Great idea! Thanks for your writing Nadia.

  • http://Www.owlmountainmusic.com Steve Eulberg

    How play- full and re-creation- al, which means seriously cool!

  • Janet Dougherty

    I’m sending this to two men I know who have sustained serious bike accidents — one quite recently. I am assuring them that blessings are available to all who avail themselves!
    Wonderful, creative and uplifting.
    Ride in peace to love and serve the Lord.

  • John

    I love this idea, Nadia! Can you email me what you used for the service?

    Thanks again!

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bloom/id471389306?mt=8 Anne

    Creative and awesome; I am a cycle commuter and love it. But — please ask those folks in the photos riding without helmets to reconsider. Or next year add a free-helmet giveaway for low-/no-income folks. Cycle shops and gear mfrs will often help with these.

  • http://www.mjarts.com Marty Jones

    This is from Marty Jones’s wife, Judy– Thank you for the blessing. I commute & play by bike & bus & train & foot much more than car. I cried as I read through the service. Thank you for acknowledging all the different reasons why we ride, the prayers for protection & forgiveness. We weave in & out of traffic & neighborhoods, & God weaves us in & out & around & about each others lives, people & plants, animals & stars, rocks & airs. Yesterday as I biked home in the evening, I waved at a mom, baby & 4 year old boy. They waved back, & the 4 y.o. shouted “I have a bike, too!” So, I had to go back & visit with them. Now we know each other personally, so all next school year when I pass their house to & from work, I’ll wave at the windows whether I see them or not, & think of how they are growing! ~~^’> JJ the mouse traveling by bike O->O

  • http://www.mjarts.com Marty Jones

    One of our sons also bikes all over & had to go 9 months without biking at all, & 11 months w/o commuting to work by bike. On his way to work, he, his bike & a truck collided. There have been many blessings in his life during that year while his broken collarbone mended, counterbalancing the many frustrations. MJ’s wife JJ

  • Kirk VanGilder

    Ahem… You’re truly welcoming unicyclists (and Unitarians) then why does the next line say you’re blessing everyone on two wheels? Are those on tricycles and training wheels welcome?

    Grin.

    Love this liturgy Nadia. As someone who has recently gotten back into cycling to suppliment my walking and mass transit use in what is now year a decade of car free and carefree living, I’m keen to see if I can talk Foundry UMC’s PM service folks into a ‘bike to church’ and blessing of the bikes day

  • http://www.tobaccotrailchurch.com Rev. George Linney

    This re-tools the liturgy and many of our sacramental practices and helps bring them such great new life. This morning I awoke, and rather than work first on the sermon looming and joyfully waiting some 11 hours later, instead I worked to bash off a broken chain tightener on my fixey so that I could clean the chain, tighten the chain, and have a better ride to a run with a friend who is exploring God and the universe. If I had not started the morning with somewhat frustrating bike maintenance, I would have denied myself the opportunity to take in the city by bike and really see what God was up to. It all worked out. Thank you Jesus for the Blessing of the Bicycles.

  • OlDave

    Yeah, nice. But seriously – NOT ENOUGH BALLOONS !!!

  • Pingback: A Blessing of the Bicycles – patheos.com | Motorised Bicycles


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