There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
It actually happened - a funeral that started about 1 1/2 hours late because the deceased was late. There was a good reason: the motorcycle escort - all 18-some motorcycles - bringing Robbie Sturma's ashes got delayed.
When I heard that a biker group called "The Regulators" was bringing Robbie's urn to the church via motorcycle, I had a moment of fear: being a Stephen King fan, the word "regulator" brings to mind a very fearful image. However, these bikers were Regulators all right:
- Tolerance and
Many of these folks were Narcotics Anonymous members, as Robbie was. The testimonies from friends and families were short but powerful. The "captain" of the group, a tattooed man in leather who walked with an obvious limp, spoke eloquently and passionately about the man whom he had sponsored in N.A. so many years ago, and how many people Robbie had befriended and helped along the way. Robbie was a BIG man - but it seems his heart was even bigger. His story was a story of redemption - and what a powerful story.
Many of these folks were REAL bikers - not just people like me who happen to ride a motorcycle. They looked and dressed the part. But as I have learned over the years, never
judge a book by its cover. Large imposing people often have hearts that match their size. "Rough looking" folks have often been weathered by life and have mastered disciplines and faithful lifestyles than many of us can only pray for. Both times that I have had motorcycle breakdowns, it was bikers that stopped both times to brings some tools or simple companionship to get me back on the road.
Some context: I have done more funerals this year that I care to count. Last week it was a couple that died in their sleep and a man who died from Parkinson's disease. I was getting depressed and fighting despair. Some preachers have been accused of being a "Marrying Sam", but I feared being called "Rev. Kevorkian." While the prospect of a biker funeral didn't really worry me, I worried about how church folks would handle men in leather vests and women in leather halters.
How did my church embrace these folks? With open arms. The funeral got started late - but folks waited patiently. And as is the tradition here at Reidland, a grief meal followed the funeral - and this time with food enough not only for the immediate family, but for EVERYONE gathered.
I cannot count the number of folks who came up to me and said how welcome they felt and how gracious my church was to them.
The Kingdom of God is like a lot of things. Sunday, it was like a biker funeral. I needed Sunday. It was a reminder to me of redemption and resurrection. God can do anything, if sometimes we will get out of the way.