Apr 01 2012
Nikos: My Coming Clean with Jesus Holy Week Story
Several years ago, I pastored a church where my parsonage was next to the church. I have served three churches where this has been the case. The riding mower was kept in a shed just outside my office window at the church. The church lawn mower guy and I shared the use of that mower. The trick for the two of us was to not get in each other's way when the two lawns needed to be mowed.
It was Holy Week and both the church lawn and my lawn needed to be mowed badly. With Holy Week services approaching in just a few days, I decided to mow my lawn on that Tuesday. The problem was that the mower broke just as I was finishing up. I had to push this very heavy riding lawn mower from my house to the church shed.
I knew that the church mowing guy would probably mow on Wednesday since he probably wanted to have the church lawn look nice for our worship services and especially for Easter Sunday. My plan was to give him a call that evening to let him know about the broken down riding mower. But first, I had to get ready for a meeting with my choir director.
As my choir director and I were having our planning meeting in my church office, we started to hear somebody cursing just outside of my office window. We both ignored it, but the fowl words continued. And then it got louder to the point where it was difficult to ignore.
I gulped as I began to realize what was happening just outside my office window. My hunch was that our church lawn mowing guy who I came to discover had a very, very short temper, had probably just discovered that the riding mower was broken. Because it was quickly getting dark outside and the church lawn really needed to be mowed, he was probably outraged that his window of opportunity to mow had closed shut because of this unexpected annoyance.
The vulgarities became so loud that my choir director interrupted our conversation once again and said, "We better go outside and see what the problem is." OK, here's where this story gets really interesting. Knowing that the church lawn mowing guy was about 6 - 2 and about 230 pounds and obviously had a short fuse, there was absolutely no way that I was going to come clean with him in that moment.
And so I must confess. In that moment, I lied to my choir director. I said, "Oh, that's probably just somebody from off the street who is mad about something. That happens once in a while." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was afraid to go and tell the irate lawnmower guy the truth! I was a coward. It's as simple as that!
As the curse words continued to be spewed from this mower guy's mouth, we continued on with our planning meeting. It's really hard to keep your concentration when you also have to listen to four letter words just outside your church office window!
After not being truthful with my choir director, I tried to forget about this lawn mower incident. But as the week went on, it bothered me that I was being such a coward. During the Maundy Thursday service, I listened to the scripture readings about how Peter denied Jesus and how Judas betrayed him. This story took on a new meaning for me as I could see myself along with the disciples who were too afraid to stand up for Jesus when he needed them the most.
Well, guess who showed up for that Maundy Thursday service? Church lawn mowing man! After hearing those scriptures, I decided to "fess up" and tell him that I was the one who broke the lawnmower. Knowing that I caused him to readjust his schedule, I was prepared to duck if he threw a right hook at me. Instead, a big smile came to his face and he just started laughing. He appreciated hearing about what happened because he didn't think that he had broken the mower. I also told my choir director what had happened before leaving church that night. Like the lawn mower guy, he laughed out loud and thanked me for explaining the mystery of those very loud and nasty words.
I was never so proud of myself than I was in that moment when I finally came clean. It was the story of Jesus' last days that helped me to face my own sins and shortcomings. It was the story of the one who was willing to suffer and die on the cross which gave me the courage to do the right thing.
Maybe the church lawn mower guy came clean that night as well. May we all.
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