By Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
“April Fools’!” we cry out when—all in good fun – we’ve pulled one over on someone today! The April Fools’ Day tradition may have originated as far back as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written between 1387 and 1400.
But, regardless of its origin, it’s considered a day to play some tricks, have some fun—and, goodness knows, we could all use some fun about now. More than ever, all of us probably need to remember something silly or joyful--and share a good laugh! From a Christian perspective, the apostle Paul suggested several times in his various letters, for us to be willing to be fools for Christ. Of course, he wasn’t referring to our being practical jokesters; he was urging us to let go of our pride, get out of our comfort zone and stand in someone else’s shoes. Because Paul knew who he was as a child loved by God, he was often willing to be different and take a risk, even if it meant being criticized by his audiences.
He met people wherever they were in their faith journeys, even if others didn’t understand why and perhaps thought he was foolish. After more than a year, when things have been so difficult and painful and we’ve often felt separated from each other, maybe, as Christians, we can grab hold of Paul’s example and ask ourselves what we’re willing to do differently now. Are we willing to take ourselves out of our own comfort zones, perhaps listen to a different point of view, or maybe even befriend someone we might not have considered as a potential friend before? Are we willing to take a risk on someone else’s behalf? April Fools’ Day can be a silly reminder for us to occasionally turn things upside down! Spiritually, so many of us get stuck in our routines, worship services and theologies that we’re not willing to venture outside of them. April Fools’ Day is as good a reminder as any to not take ourselves so seriously. Remember— our God is full of surprises! And, because we know who we are as children of God, we can be willing to take a risk and do something different, something surprising too.
Jesus’s entire ministry was about crossing boundaries and doing the unexpected. As His followers, perhaps we should follow his example and loosen up! Rather than always being so serious, trying to “get our act together,” we could understand the power of grace--like Paul did when he ventured into something as seemingly insurmountable as the huge divide between Jews and Gentiles. If we’ll just remind ourselves of who we are and the powerful, love-filled grace we have access to, we might find it easier to take a little risk now and then too. We could even risk sometimes being silly! In fact, I’m convinced that if all Christians would allow themselves to be joyful people-- thoughtful, hope-filled fools for Christ—over and above theology, we’d hardly have room for those who wanted to join us in worship. So, let’s let April Fools’ Day be a good reminder to live a life full of joy-- for Heaven’s sake—and for your own!
God loves you and so do I!