Grace and Peace to you in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This last Saturday I had the opportunity to do something unique, I went to watch my (soon to be 67 year old) father race a vintage dirt bike. (A 250cc 1974 Suzuki to be exact.) He raced against thirty four other people over the age 60 in his class. This all occurred at the American Motorcyclist Association’s Vintage Bike Days in Mansfield, Ohio. An event where thousands of people from all over the country come to race their vintage motorcycles in a variety of different races and events. Think Woodstock, but with vintage motorcycles. (Thanks to Amy O’Neal for that analogy.)
Now, a little background on what led to this day. Before I was born in 1982, my father raced dirt bikes and late model stock cars. But, he got a full time job with the fire department, and then I came along, and that led to him leaving his racing days behind. Fast forward to 2016, when a friend of his calls him up to tell him that he built a small motocross track at his house and he wondered if Dad would come out to give him and his brother some pointers. It wasn’t long until he was back to riding a dirt bike, and rebuilding vintage bikes for fun. Then he learned that there were tracks in the midwest that held events for vintage bike racing and they included senior age classes. He was racing a few times a year, and he always invited me to come. He really wanted me to see him race, since I never had the chance back when he was in his prime. But, the races were always a long drive away, and usually fell on Summer weekends where I had to preside at a wedding.
This year was the first time I didn’t actually have any plans, but it was still far away! And, the prospect of leaving Muncie at 4am to get there in time did not have me excited one bit. But, I really wanted to do this for my dad, I knew it meant a lot to him. So, I connected with a friend in Columbus, and landed there for the evening. Which was fun, except I stayed up too late, as expected. Then, I got up at 5:45am and hit the road to Mansfield. Still complaining to myself about the early hour, I turned up some classic trucking/road trip songs and I grabbed some caffeine and a sausage McMuffin.
I arrived at 7:30am and my dad met me at the gate with my entry ticket and campground pass. I think he smiled from the moment he saw me until the moment I left later that day around 3:30pm. He was so happy to have me there, he introduced me to everyone he had met and proudly told them that I was a Lutheran Pastor. Seriously, everyone. And, I had an absolute blast. It was such a blessing to see my dad in his element, doing what he loved, and enjoying every minute of it. He performed pretty well too, he finished 11th out of 34 riders.
This past weekend reminded me of something valuable that I haven’t thought a lot about lately, probably because many of us haven’t travelled much in the past 16-18 months. It reminded me of the importance of showing up for people. Showing up for family, for friends, for events, and for ministry/outreach opportunities. Showing up for family and friends may require us to travel long hours by automobile or airplane, and it may require us to use precious vacation time from work. But, it’s worth it. Because the people you show up for value your presence. When you show up for weddings, funerals, reunions, baptisms, birthdays, ordinations, and even sporting events such as motocross racing, you are a blessing to those who have invited you to be there. And, ninety nine percent of the time when you look back on those days, you see it as a blessing to you as well.
Ministry and outreach is no different. Just making the effort to show up is the important part. You may not solve all the world's problems by being there, but the fact that you showed up willing to do what you could, is a blessing to those you showed up for. Director Woody Allen is often credited with saying, “90% of success is just showing up.” I adapt that quote with my students and tell them, “90% of ministry is just showing up.” Because when we show up to be a part of a ministry or an outreach project, we show up as vessels of the Holy Spirit. And, what a blessing it is that God chooses us to be those vessels!
My friends, don’t forget that you are a blessing to others. Your presence is valued. Show up for your friends and family. Show up for the work of the church. Don’t forget to make time for these things, for they are the things that make our journey through life worthwhile.
Your Sibling in Christ,