Roller skating and the kingdom of God
On Sunday, I met up with 120 of my closest friends from church for no other reason than to put on wheeled shoes and wiggle around on a slick surface. That’s right, we went roller skating.
It’s good to switch things up like this. To see the people you normally greet in church with brief handshakes and reserved smiles, now gliding around an illuminated roller rink, lip-syncing Britney Spears.
For me, this is a glimpse of the kingdom of God. Entertain a few of my observations as I build my case.
While still at church, a confident fifth-grader reported to some of her classmates that today she would be going roller skating. I confirmed, “Hey, me too!” and then added, when she said her grandma wasn’t interested in skating, “well, I’ll skate with you.” She was elated (and so was Grandma!).
When we got to the skate park, first, I flopped around the floor and the skating rink with my four year old son, whose skates, I believe weighed more than him. He was frustrated but continued to laugh it off and every time I asked, “wanna quit?” He smiled and said no.
Then, I rolled around with my 2-year-old, whose balance and chill attitude astonished me. I watched her as she braved the rink surrounded by whirling teenagers; giants who towered over her.
But when my kids went home for the naps, that’s when I fulfilled my promise. I skated with my enthusiastic fifth-grade friend for the remaining two hours. Her aptitude on the rink surprised me because she, like Joe, didn’t want to leave; but wasn’t quite ready to release the wall yet. When I grabbed her hand to lead her around the rink, she gripped it tightly. It was only later, when we danced with a man in a chicken suit – sang happy birthday, did the hokey pokey – clapped and flapped to the famous “chicken dance” – that I began to see her loosen up.
At one point, a younger girl, maybe no older than my son, came up alongside me at the rink. “Hi Pastor Kendra!” she said and she grabbed my hand. I did not recognize her, but she knew me, and away we went.
Later when I took a break to rest my weary feet and find some water, I noticed several kids (and adults!) taking a “Skittles break.” Another mom informed me, jokingly, that Skittles were invented to tackle low blood sugar – maybe so!
After my break I glided over toward the rink and that’s when I saw what I wish now I would have captured digitally: Colleague Ann McGlynn, surrounded by refugee children. One on her lap and half a dozen flocked around her, many with ring pops in their mouths. Then Lori Byerly stopped by and pointed out a couple of these kids on the rink, learning to skate.
In the Beatitudes, the intro to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We can thirst for righteousness in prayer and our hunger can be satisfied for God when we gather in church for fellowship, word, song, meal. But how about – on the rink? Maybe God’s kingdom looks like wobbly legs or unsure feet in retro skates; maybe God’s children can pass the peace during a Skittles break and maybe, just maybe, God is laughing right along with us when we clap and flap to the chicken dance.