A few years ago I was driving home from a monthly meeting with clergy and ministers at our nearby local Inter-church Council. I was lost in thought until I found myself stuck behind a large, dirty panel truck that seemed to be traveling ten miles an hour. With no safe way to pass, I was stuck in slow-mo. I resigned myself to just roll with it hoping the truck would soon turn off onto another street. It didn’t. Having given up waiting for the truck’s turn signal to flash, I finally looked up and read the back of the truck. In big, bold black letters it read, “Mobile Redemption Center.” I thought, Mobile Redemption Center? And from there my mind took off with possibilities….
Redemption? As in forgiveness of sins and all that? Heck, this could be a church or place of worship on wheels. Isn’t that what churches are supposed to be about, to help their members get in right order with their God? Just think, most houses of worship are huge edifices of brick, mortar and frequently steeples, which are intentionally designed to get your attention, right? They build them, you come, or so the plan goes.
So I’m riding along (still) behind this dingy, dented and dirty old truck that says it’s a Mobile Redemption Center. Like life, like us, really….dented and a little grimy from the road of life.
Now supposing Jesus himself was driving that truck, just rolling along. No golden chariot. No bolts of lightning. No miracles. No fish… nothing. Just old faithful J.C in his grubby truck driving through neighborhoods picking up, reclaiming, repurposing this soul and that soul along the way?
At the next red light I rolled closer to the back of the truck and noticed diesel exhaust had left a gray sooty layer across the back bumper. Here it was, an urban blackboard where mischievous fingers had left their mark. “Ron loves Paula,” “Jimmy was here,” and “F___ You!” Then I spotted something interesting. Down in the lower left side someone had scribbled in “wash me.”
Wash me? We’ve all seen this a hundred times on trucks and cars. But on my Mobile Redemption Center truck? Well, the spiritual imagery here certainly was intriguing. After a few more minutes my little mental church on wheels turned into a shopping plaza presumably to pick up bottles and cans.
I told this little story at the next meeting of ministers and pastors. As I finished one of the group members started jotting down notes and then said, “Kevin, that’ll preach!” May I use it?”
Though I don’t preach, I know how challenging it is for clergy members to find fresh sermon topics week after week. “Of course,” I said, “Besides, I’m sure the truck driver, whoever it is, won’t mind.”
Text by Kevin Lee
Graphic artwork created exclusively for Rise This Day
by Ma. Shayne Krizel Zalameda