Two of my daughters live in New Orleans, so currently they are knee deep in Mardi Gras. This carnival time, right before Lent, is filled with parades, dancing, music, and good food and drink. One of the frequent symbols of Mardi Gras is the Jester or the “fool.” The contrast of Mardi Gras revelry with the ashes of Lent remind me of the saying, “Only a fool chases death, and only a fool runs from death.”
I am also reminded by the references to fools and folly to those moments when I have cried to the sky and said, “What a fool I’ve been.” So maybe it is the appropriate time to ask, what did the Apostle Paul mean when he said “Be fools for Christ.” It is phrase used often by fundamentalists to separate what they consider to be a “chosen few” from the rest of humankind. Their “select” seem to revel in the “private joke” they share among themselves, to the exclusion of the rest. Well they may be “fools” but I do not think this is what Paul meant by “for Christ” part of his message.
Perhaps Paul was urging us to take those risks with our lives that the world labels “foolish.” To seek those paths that bring us joy and mirth, and more importantly bring joy and mirth to others, like the jester. Paul is asking us to consider those challenges we always knew would be pleasing to God, but we never took because of the admonition we heard from ourselves or others, “don’t be a fool.”
During Lent, we examine our lives. We are asked to remember the prayers we haven’t prayed, the friend we’ve hurt, the kindness left undone, and yes, the foolish steps we didn’t take. And we pray, help us not to be just old and foolish, but once again a fool. Give us the strength to take that step or reckless abandon only a fool would take. As they say, there’s no fool like an old fool.”
Your Friend, Webb
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