In the book of Acts there is a mention of "a sabbath's day journey" roughly translated this is about 3/4 of a mile. The biblical authors took it for granted that most of the readers would know that most travel was done by foot. In fact, Acts 1:12 is the only time this phrase is mentioned in the New Testament.
Maybe you are like me and have walked more during the past year than you have in the past ten? I used to run, but I don't like running. I still love riding my bike, but I find I enjoy walking more than riding my bike. I've been walking to work, walking to the grocery store, to the bank, to the post office, around the lake and around town. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, sometimes I listen to the birds. If you need inspiration to put one foot in front of the other, read In Praise of Paths by Torbjørn Ekelund.
Which brings me to the topic of the day: walking to church. Growing up it never occurred to me to walk to church. But the distance between my house in St. Albans, WV and First Baptist Church is almost the exact distance between my house here in Minneapolis and Judson Memorial Baptist Church: 2.8 miles.
In his wonderful book, Henry Works D.B. Johnson tells the story of Henry David Thoreau (imagined as a bear) walking around the town of Concord, MA and to his cabin in Walden Woods.
While walking Henry catches all of the stories and inspirations he needs for his work. I find that my sermons "come to me" better when I am walking.
I know many people have been walking more and more during the pandemic, but will they walk to church when we return to in-person worship? Doing so would allow worshippers to arrive fresh and more attentive (I bet they would arrive more tender and compassionate, I find after a walk whatever was bugging me has usually melted away). Walking to church would definitely reduce the carbon footprint of the gathered community. Walking to church would also free up parking spaces for those with physical limitations or for visitors.
We think that most of our congregants don't live within a sabbath's day journey of the church. But after digging into most church directories at least a 1/3 of all members live within a mile (a sabbath's day journey), at least half live within 2-5 miles (a sabbath's day bike ride) or 75% live within 5-10 miles (a sabbath's day ebike journey).
Were still a few months away from returning to in-person worship, so why not start exploring walking routes, bike routes, exploring ebike purchasing arrangements?
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