Sermon Summaries

Repentance: the NASCAR edition

Click here for a YouTube Video.

Our texts this week come from Psalm 51 and Luke 15.

Psalm 51 is a Psalm of King David, where he recognizes the error of his ways, seeks to make an amends, proclaims repentance, and asks God to create in him a clean heart and renewed spirit.

In Luke, Jesus provides  a parable to the religious elite. A parable about God’s incomprehensible love, mercy, and grace, where God rejoices over one sinner that repents, one lost sheep that is brought back into the fold, than 99 in need of no repentance.

I don’t know about you, but I have found myself on both sides of that parable.

I have found myself as the one who has made an error, one who has needed to apologize and make an amends, and repent, to change my direction.

But, my pride, [and] my ego, and my self-righteousness has also put me on a pedal stool to say “at least I am not like those people over there”.

And sometimes, we are both at the same time. Sometimes because of our pride and our ego we’re able to justify our errors rather than seeking to reflect upon them and go through the process of repentance. There are plenty of examples for when this has happened, personally and communally, throughout the world. However,  a prime example of it was from the Richmond night race this last weekend.

If you’re a NASCAR fan like I am, you are well aware of Tony Stewart’s temper. It was the second week in a row where he had wrecked, intentionally wrecked, another NASCAR driver. At Richmond it was Ryan Newman, and although Ryan Newman’s chance for the Chase was a long-shot, he had a chance at the Chase {NASCAR’s version of the play-offs} until the wreck.

Needless to say, Ryan made some comments about Tony’s temper. Afterwards, Tony was asked if it was intentional and his response was ‘Yes. Ryan was driving too aggressively. He had bumped into me three times previously. How many free passes does a guy get? That is two more hits than I normally would let a guy have at me.’

One of my clergy friends, who [had been] watching the race with me, sent me a text message after he heard Tony’s comments and said ‘well, Tony confessed. Does that mean he is forgiven?’

And I said, ‘HECK No!’. And I will admit, it is in part because I (kind of) like Ryan Newman, that is my mama’s boy. But, ultimately it comes down to Tony confessed that it was intentional;

  • he did not see the error in his ways;
  • he was not apologetic;
  • he was not seeking to make an amends; and
  • I highly doubt he  has the intention of changing his way.

Now, I am not saying that Tony Stewart is condemned to Hellfire. But what I am saying is, although Tony confessed what he had done, he is not fully living into that incomprehensible love, grace, and mercy that God offers us when we do that.

I pray that Tony Stewart and us, that we all can be a little more like King David in the Psalm and ask God to work in us, for us to recognize our errors, for us to be truly sorry for them, for us to seek an amends, and to change our directions so that we can more fully be the person God has called us to be; one where we have a clean heart and a renewed spirit. Amen.   

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