Preaching, Unicycle, Broken Ankle, and Swearing

 The end of the year causes me to take stock of the good and bad of the past. Looking back over my jacked up life, I could write a book on the mistakes and blunders I have made. I’ll save you the details and highlight a favorite episode of my stupidity.

I was preparing to teach one Sunday morning at Maryland Community Church. I was wanting to make a point of how we overload our lives. I talked a friend into riding his 6′ unicycle on stage at a designated point in the teaching. He had agreed to let me climb a ladder, strap a backpack on him, and fill it with bricks, all while he rode the unicycle. The point would be made that it is hard to live life (or ride a unicycle) with a backpack full of bricks. OK, so it sounds lame now, but trust me, it was brilliant; or so I thought.

Earlier in the week I talked with my friend, let’s call him “Jim.” I inquired as to if he really thought we could pull it off. “No problem,” said Jim, “I recently won a competition where I rode a 6′ unicycle backwards over a 4×4 beam; across a stream.” I was pumped. Jim suggested a little music for the introduction. I set the whole deal up with our tech team and we were ready to rock.

Sunday 9 AM. We were prepping for our 10 AM worship service. The band was done so it was time for Jim and I to run through the unicycle experience. I knew it would be brilliant. It had the potential to change lives for the better. It could be world changing. I was pumped.

We cleared the stage. I got on the mic for the run-through. We put a lapel mic on Jim so I could interview him while he rode. The sound guys turned on the mics. Jim was back stage and would enter through a large garage door to the stage on cue. I had a ladder and backpack. Jim would come to me. I would climb the ladder. I would slip the backpack on him. Gently add some bricks. All this while teaching. I chucked and thought to myself how magnificent I was.

“Please welcome my friend Jim.” Cue music. Jim comes rolling out from backstage on his unicycle. It was a thing of beauty. Awesome. He came toward me but seemed a bit uncertain and wobbly. I climbed the ladder, he came close. He wobbled. Lost his balance and jumped off. It was apparent that I would not be able to get the backpack on him. “Let me try this again,” said Jim, “I just need to get my balance.”

9:15. Some of the older people are starting to arrive at church. Strange looks.

Another attempt and we knew that I couldn’t get the backpack on Jim while he was on the unicycle. Time for plan B.

I slipped the backpack on Jim backstage. “Just ride out with the backpack on and I will interview you with it on. Forget the ladder. Forget the bricks.”

Take 2. “Friends, please welcome my friend Jim.” Cue music. Jim gets some speed up backstage and prepares to ride through the garage door onto stage. At this point, we all get a quick math lesson. 6′ unicycle + 6′ man + 1′ backpack = wedge into an 8′ garage door. Jim sticks to the top of the garage door like a bad wedgie.

9:20. More people coming in. The kind of people that come early to church. The kind of people that wouldn’t be digging this kind of thing. I think I feel a bead of sweat down my back. Time for plan C.

“Ditch the backpack, just ride on stage, do the interview, and ride away,” I instructed. Seemed simple enough.

Jim mentions that he just needed some more warming up. Mics are still on and the techs are setting levels. “OK,” I say, “Let’s try it again.”

9:25. A few more people. Much more sweat. Cue music. Jim rolls out on stage, minus the backpack. Everything looks good. Six feet is a looooong way up. Mics are on and working well. Jim is looking great. He is doing the little back and forth thing on the unicycle. he looks like a pro. He positions himself in front of the band equipment. Back and forth, forth and back. Jim is the man.

Then it all goes wrong. Terribly wrong.

Jim looses his balance and comes down. Hard. The unicycle comes out front, Jim falls. Hard. On the way to the ground he takes a heavy music stand . . . to the groin.



It was the perfect expletive for the situation. The mic was hot.

Silence ………..

Jim gets up. He limps backstage, pulling his unicycle.

9:30. More people. I make a mental note to dust off my resume. I head backstage to talk to Jim. He is being consoled by a friend, Rob. Rob is a great guy and everybody’s favorite redneck. “Whew,” hollers Rob, “He got racked so bad his glands are all swelled up.” I looked at Jim. Bent over. Hands on his knees. Red-faced.

“Glands? Well, everybody calls them something different,” I said.

“Naw,” says everybody’s favorite redneck, “Glands in his throat. Ain’t you never been hit so hard in the man region that your throat glands swell up?”

I just look at him like “You have got to be kidding.”

“Let’s call it off,” I say.

Jim insists that he can ride it. No problem. Just needs to catch his breath.

9:35. Jim jumps back on the unicycle for one final practice run. Again, we are looking good. Riding around stage like a pro. My confidence was coming back. For an exit, Jim decided that he will ride down from the stage to the floor via 6 stair-steps. He assured me that he had done it before. He set up for the approach. Back and forth. Forth and back. He then heads for the stairs.

Then it all goes wrong. Terrible wrong. Again.

Jim gets down 2 of the 7 steps and falls to the floor. He caught himself hard on one foot and started limping (again). He limped down the isle toward the door. He just kept limping further away, never looking back.

9:40. One 6′ unicycle laying on the floor and no Jim. Evidently time for Plan D. One of our techs picked up the unicycle and put it backstage. I came to the conclusion that today there would be no unicycle ride.

9:45 Technical Meeting. No Jim. Everybody looks at me like “What do we do?” Seconds later, Aimee walks in with Jim’s mic in her hands. “Hey,” she says, “Some guy in the parking lot said to give this to you and to tell you that he was going to the hospital because he was pretty sure he broke his ankle.”


I called Jim later. “Man, are you OK?”

“Oh, yea, I just broke another bone in my foot. It has happened before. Thing is, I had cataract surgery this week and my depth perception is a little off.”



This article was submitted to Darren at Problogger’s Group Writing Project.

[tags]problogger, Darren-Rowse, worship, mistakes, unicycle, preaching[/tags]

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19 thoughts on “Preaching, Unicycle, Broken Ankle, and Swearing

  1. Haha. Well, I certainly admire you both for persistence. I hope Jim is healing up well, poor guy. Next time I see a unicycle, I’m going to have flashbacks of this posting!

    Blessings and love in 2007 (and less broken bones and swollen err .. glands 😉