Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thiefs, Cars and Johnny Cash

Today is Palm Sunday. A very important day in the Christian Calendar, the first day of Holy Week. I am a priest and so it is my job to be present for Holy Week. Yesterday my car broke down on the return trip of taking my oldest son to college. Of course this was not my will. But nonetheless, I returned home by the grace of God using my cell phone, debit card and Triple A Motor Club!

This morning I preached on the two thieves hanging on the cross. For me they represent the 2 types of Christians that exist. The first thief mocks Jesus asking that He save him from the punishment he deserves. The second understands he Bolddeserves his punishment only asking Jesus remembers him in paradise! Jesus responds to the second thief! The first thief has an agenda and expects Jesus to fulfill his agenda. The second thief has abandoned any hope in his agenda accepting any mercy provided by the one who is Innocent. The second thief knew himself well and knew who Jesus truly is! You see, many Christians pray to God telling Him how to answer their prayer. How selfish! How self-centered! The second thief knew his condition and his only hope was to accept his need for salvation in Jesus. After all, Jesus is Lord knowing what we need. The first thief wanted to tell Jesus what to do. The second thief knew who the true Lord was accepting His judgement.

Like the first thief I knew what I wanted God to do when my car broke down. The car was to miraculously be healed and I could return home without any cost to my wallet! But God had other plans. After calling AAA and paying for an upgrade I was towed home riding in the cab of the tow truck. But God had a different plan for me. After an hour of praying to God to take away my poverty, my frustration God wanted me to know His mercy. God does not take away our inconveniences. He shows us His mercy.

My tow truck driver was a young Johnny Cash loving tow truck driver. Johnny reminded me that our problems may be God's way of being with those who have problems. My goodness! Jesus died between two criminals. He is in the midst of our problems, our screwed up world. But only one thief knew it. Like I said, the two criminals are like Christians in the Church. One type wants to tell God what to do. The other lets God do what He needs to do for our salvation!