SO … I HAVE A MOTORCYCLE …
It’s a red 2003 Honda Shadow, American Classic Edition, 750 cc. Hearing of someone getting one of these at 51 years old and not having owned one before can raise interesting rumors and opinions. As fun as it would be to entertain those here, let me cut to the chase: I rode a motorcycle throughout my teenage years and always knew that someday I would have a motorcycle again. I was not shopping for it, but this deal literally fell into my lap and I could not pass it up.
But that’s not really the point of this.
The first time I rode the thing on the streets of Albuquerque I was getting “the wave” from other motorcyclists. You have probably noticed it. When approaching another motorcycle on the road the riders extend their left arm outward at about a 45 degree angle toward the road. There are variations of the wave and there is truly etiquette to it. (Feel free to read articles by googling “motorcycle wave etiquette.”)
What struck me in the first few minutes was that I was already accepted. Riders on cruisers and crotch rockets, ape hangers and trikes, tattooed or completely covered in state-of-the-art protective wear: they all waved at me. It is a sign of the motorcycle rider “brotherhood and sisterhood” (according to one of those aforementioned articles). Just like that. Get on a bike. Ride down the street. And I am “in” with the rider crowd. And parking next to a fellow rider in a parking lot almost always turns into a conversation about your bike, what modifications you have made, how long you have been riding, etc.
That’s a big contrast to an experience a few weeks ago. Thanks to a friend of a friend, I had the opportunity to golf with some guys at a local country club. When we made the turn (finished the 9th hole and got ready to play the back 9– for non-golfers) we went into the club house to get a snack and a drink to carry with us. As we walked through the room toward the counter almost every conversation stopped and everyone watched us walk through. No one said a word to us. It was hard to shake the feeling that we had stepped into territory that was not ours and that we did not belong.
You already know where I’m going with this … What is the experience of a person walking into your church for the first time? Is that person immediately greeted and accepted as another “rider” through this life? Or is that person stared down because he/she is not a member of the club? Since you cannot control the other people in your church, I hope you (yes, you, the one reading this) will take it on as a personal initiative to genuinely welcome people at your church regardless of how they look, smell, act, speak, or otherwise present themselves. It might just change a life – maybe yours.