This concept has been growing in recent years across the country but especially in Buffalo. “Slow Roll Buffalo” (SLB) is a group of people that come together and ride bikes slowly together. Riding bikes as a group is wonderful but when you’re going 18-20mph on the roads during the Ride for Roswell or a local triathlon race, it’s a little hard to talk with one another and be fully connected. So SLB has invited any riders of all shapes, sizes and experience levels to come together and slow down together. Slow down to reconnect with friends. Slow down to see the things around them better. Slow down to relax. Slow down to enjoy the experience differently.
This summer, I’m going to slow roll. But not just on bikes. Hopefully, slow roll mentally, physically and spiritually. In this summer of renewal at St. Paul’s, I’ll be away from St. Paul’s, in town and out of town, slowing down. My hope for the summer is to reconnect with my family, my self and God’s creation around me. I’ll be on the west coast in National Parks, visiting family on the east coast, away in the Adirondacks and over in Ireland as well. I’ll be on new bike paths and running on different streets in WNY. I’ll be reading and meeting with my counselor. I’ll be slowing down and rushing less. And my desire for the summer is, through those experiences, find new ways to slow roll as I come back in September. Because God has big plans for St. Paul’s over the next few years and I’m stoked to be a part of them.
My prayer for you this summer is that you’ll take some “slow roll” time wherever you are. Slow down from the things that cause you to rush or race. Slow down and reconnect with family and friends. Slow down and see what God has blessed you with that is right in your midst.
St. Paul’s is blessed to have a TON of great leaders, led by Pastor Kristen over the summer. I am thankful for their faithful leadership, gifts and commitment. This weekend, along with the Solidarity Slow Roll Ride on Saturday at 9:30am, we will celebrate our leaders in worship on Saturday and Sunday, along with welcoming new missionaries on Sunday morning.
This summer, may we slow roll. Wherever you are and whatever that can look like for you. As you do, may God’s blessings pour over you and may they be super easy to see!
Lord, thank you Lord for the invitation to slow roll. Amen
Still in One Peace, ps
“ps from ps” will pick back up in the fall of 2023
ps from ps I posted this picture last Wednesday afternoon on St. Paul’s Facebook page. It wasn’t just an empty room. But more accurately, it was a Waiting Room.
Not the traditional doctor’s office type waiting room, but a room that was waiting for people to gather for God on Tap. Discussions. Conversations. Prayer. And in only a couple hours after I took and posted that picture, the waiting was over and it became a room of restoration.
A Restoration Room.
It was a room where black, white, brown, Haitian, German, Christians, Jews, AME, Lutheran and more came together to restore one another. One of the definitions of restore is to “bring back; reinstate.” And that’s what we did. We wrestled with life, community, racism, love and so many other things that are on our radar as we approach 5/14 one year later. We were able to “bring back” helpful conversations, prayer together and restorative, reinstating moments of tangible hope. We prayed together over the hour in English, Creole and Hebrew. Because none of us on our own has all the answers.
When I left, I felt restored. We didn’t fix anything or guarantee hatred and racism isn’t going to show up in our home town again. But we returned to God again together and asked for help and for us to be part of the continued healing.
A Restoration Room.
I’ve been thinking about that sort of space more and more since that evening. A space where we reconnect with God. Where we’re honest with ourselves and others. Where we admit we need guidance. Where we feel tangible hope, grace and love.
Sometimes I’ll sit for a few minutes in the church sanctuary during the day when I’m flying between this and that. And when I take the time and pause, I feel God’s restoration. Or a walk on a beautiful day alone or with another missionary as we wrestle with life. And I feel God’s restoration.
Where is your Restoration Room? Where do you or can you go to breathe, to talk, to connect and feel God’s restoration? We might not figure everything out while we’re there, but we will feel God’s presence if we create the space.
I encourage you to make space in your day and the space in your life to transition the waiting rooms around you into life giving, life reinstating Restoration Rooms.
Lord, thank you for those moments of restoration. Amen
ps from ps “After he rose from the dead, Jesus showed up in the upper room where the disciples were hiding, not once but at least twice, walking through locked doors and walls to get there. The disciples were amazed.
And then seven of them went back fishing.” – Biegner version of the end of John 20 and the beginning of John 21
They went back fishing.
I’m wrestling with their response. Seems like it’s one of two things: 1. They see, believe, are amazed and have had their lives changed for good and they wanted to get back into their vocation and integrate this new good news into their daily work. -Or- 2. They have the spiritual attention span of a boat oar and didn’t know quite what to do with a resurrected savior and were scared to talk with anyone about it and just wanted to retreat to a preconceived comfort zone.
Or I guess there could be a third that maybe they just really liked fishing.
I’m leaning into #2 at this point in the text because A. They show zero reactions that these interactions with Jesus made any difference at all. And… B. They seem to stink at fishing because they aren’t catching a thing and the carpenter/rabbi who is standing way off on the shore (maybe he’s staying that far away because he is concerned why Peter is fishing naked! John 21:7) has to direct them on where to throw their nets.
So that leaves us back at the dreaded #2.
Doing nothing. Going back to the same ol’ thing. Not letting the power of God over even death itself matter at all.
So, we are ten days post-Easter morning 2023.
What did you do?
If I had a dime for every time we said on Easter morning: “Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!”, then I’d have a lot of dimes! But has it changed us, or did we just crawl back into our old boats?
The rest of chapter 21 tells of Jesus calling the boys to shore after they bring in a big haul of “Jesus-inspired” fish and they break bread and share a sacred meal around the fire on the beach. He keeps showing up, despite their lack of change and movement based on this newly discovered resurrection event.
He keeps showing us.
Despite the disciples underwhelming response, he keeps showing up.
My prayer for you as we continue through the church’s Easter season but move further away from Easter morning is that you (and I) lean into #1…that we let the powerful news of a resurrected Lord carry us back into our vocation and vacations and have it change every interaction we have with the world. That’s us living out our best discipleship! But I know from my own first hand boat oar-like spiritual journey, I’ve just crawled back into plenty of boats, returned to the same ol’ thing and haven’t let the good news change me.
However, whatever our response to Easter, Jesus keeps showing up. For us and despite us. To remind us 10 days out and further that the quieter, less frequent “Christ is Risen’s” are still there. Still directing our fishing. Still inviting us to a meal on the beach.
So go and fish today. But fish today as a changed disciple, listening for Jesus’ fishing tips and readying yourself to be invited over and over to a sacred meal on the beach.
And for the love of all the is good, right and proper, if you’re fishing with other people in the boat, keep your clothes on!
Lord, help me to fish differently because of Easter. Amen
ps from ps If you live in the 716, you are starting to see the announcements of events, gatherings and memorials to recognize the massacre at Tops on 5/14/22.
We have struggled and worked hard at St. Paul’s to not make that day be about “just one day.” Our calling is to be about a continual conversation (and the work that comes from that) to make sure there is never another 5/14 here or anywhere. And yet when we turn on the news, we see that we have to step our game up.
I had coffee yesterday at the Golden Cup coffee shop, next to that same Tops, with friends from St. Paul’s, East Side Bike Club and Bethel AME Church. We did some sharing, checking in and planning for future stuff. We want to keep the conversation going beyond “photo shoot memorials,” as one of the guys said. But it was Bishop Jerry’s thoughts that really struck me. He said: “I’m 74 years old. I’ve sat around these tables in these same conversations with good intentions more times than I can remember. And yet here we are still!”
Here we are still!
There was a tired sound in his voice. An exhaustion. But he still came to the table! Running the race set before him.
We must still run this race as the church. We must still ask the questions. The hard questions. The awkward questions. Because when we ask them, and if we open our ears and set aside our viewpoints, we might just hear God’s answers.
If you want to be a part of asking questions and listening for answers, come to May’s God on Tap. Please email the email@example.com to let us know you’ll be there. But we’re going to wrestle with this further. St. Paul’s. Ray of Hope. Peniel Haitian Church. Bethel AME. East Side Bike Club. Wheels for Workers. And more.
Spoiler alert: we probably won’t figure out all the answers in one hour. But we WILL take steps forward, meet new people, create new community and support one another in the challenging times.
As Old Biegner says: “If not us, who? If not now, when?” He’s right!
So let’s keep the conversation going. Us. Now.
Lord, bless these conversations and let us be open to hearing your answers. Amen
Michelle read this phrase in two different readings this morning and told me about them and how that phrase reminds her of everyone’s favorite youth director, St. Paul’s own Adam Weber. So, I thought I would continue the theme.
Adam has been often overhead expressing his surprise in the phrase: “Wait, what?” For example, Adam has been working at St. Paul’s for four years now and upon me seeing his Christmas card and gift still in his mailbox, I texted him to let him know. You’ll never guess his response: “Wait, what? I have a mailbox?” (Side note, I’m pretty sure this is a picture of Adam in High School but it’s the only one the interweb would give me.).
This is a “Wait, what?” kinda week for more than just mailbox and Christmas gift discoveries.
Wait, what? – We’re not coming here to celebrate a king of power and glory coming into Jerusalem?
Wait, what? – What do you mean New Command? And that’s just wine and bread, not your body and blood, is it?
Wait, what? – Why is he actually letting Judas hand him over like that? Can’t he stop this?
Wait, what? – Why would you want Barabbas released when this other guy’s done nothing wrong?
Wait, what? – I wasn’t with him. I didn’t follow him. I don’t know him.
Wait, what? – I thought you could heal and raise the dead? Can’t you get yourself down?
Wait, what? – I’ll be with you in paradise?? Today??
Wait, what? – That can’t possibly be his last breath?? It can’t end like this, can it??
This week is full of surprises that Jesus would take this route. There had to be a better way right? But this was the only way that God could show the depth of God’s love, redeem the world and conquer death itself.
May you be surprised, caught off guard and amazed as the story unfolds again this week for us. And may you not miss the end of the story….
Wait, what? – The stone is rolled away???
Lord, thank you for walking a story that surprises us with the depth of your love. Amen
ps from psWhy do I love Palm Sunday? I’m glad you asked.
I love Palm Sunday because it’s one of the times in church where we tell the longer story. In our particular mission sites, we turn the whole service into the entire passion reading in the gospel, from Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to death on the cross. All of it, except the empty tomb. We save that for the next Sunday, Dingus Day Eve.
We slow it down. Give the bigger picture. Hear/read all the voices, phrases, shouts, questions, prayers. And we do it in the order it happened….so Communion is in the front part of the service. (Last Supper) Prayer is in the middle. (Garden). Confession is at the ending. (Standing at the cross) There is cheering. And there is silence.
We live in a sound bite, TikTok, 10 second video culture. We rarely get the whole story.
We use a few Bible verse or stories to try and defend our position when it’s convenient for us. Hypothetically like picking out seven sections of the Bible over the other million chapters on love to defend things like our homophobia. Hypothetically.
We like bumper sticker life and sometimes faith.
But on Palm Sunday (and Saturday), we get to hear it all. Our misunderstanding of what Jesus was doing. Our changing of our minds. Our denial. Our confusion. Our betrayal. And through it all, Jesus keeps going.
Jesus keeps going.
This coming week, hear and feel the whole story. If you can’t be at a church to do it, read Matthew chapters 26 and 27.
Church purists would argue that we do Palm Sunday wrong and it should just be the reading of Jesus entering Jerusalem. And on some levels they might be right. But I would argue it’s worth “getting it wrong” and hearing the whole story to start each Holy Week off. Because we will hear that Jesus keeps going!