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  • Writer's pictureSt. Matthews

This Lent, maybe God is calling you to try a little foolishness.

Updated: Jan 25

This week's message is part of a devotional shared from Christ Church in Eau Claire, WI

April has a peculiar tradition. We make jokes and play pranks on April first because it’s “April Fool’s Day”. Most people suppose this is just a silly recent phenomenon, maybe something that some joke shop somewhere invented to increase sales. But, it’s actually very old, and like many things in our culture that are very old, its history begins with the Church.

April the first is kept as a feast of fools all over Europe as well as in the Americas. In France, Italy, and the Low

We are fools for Christ's Sake graphic on top of purple flowers

Countries, it’s referred to as ‘April Fish Day’ and pranks often revolve around fish jokes. England and France have huge charity appeals on April Fool’s Day that revolve around workplace pranks or public jokes that people can sponsor.

So where did all this come from? Once upon a time, the Church kept the only calendar that everyone used, so, feast days (which were days off work) and festivals were based on important religious festivals. For most of European Christian history, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 marked the new year, and the Church sponsored a week-long feast to ring in the new year that provided a welcome break from the privations of Lent. Each day of the week came with a special blessing for the year ahead, and at the end of the week, on April first, was the day the ‘fools’ were blessed: All Fool’s Day. Some suggest that the end of the New Year’s feast meant a return to the sackcloth and ashes of Lent, and the practice of being ‘fools for Christ’ as Holy Week and Easter approached.

A “Fool for Christ” would strive to live a sort of beggar lifestyle; they would do silly or outrageous things that were meant to shock people out of dependence or excessive love of worldly things; and they were often seen as a prophetic voice, especially when they challenged the powers that be in their communities.

The idea is that the Christian vocation is at direct odds with the way the world does things, and so the world is bound to see the Christian faith as foolishness. It is stated so clearly as in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3:19).

As Christians, we are called to do foolish things all the time. We do them because Jesus shows us that through them, we are brought into the wisdom of God, which is entirely different from the ‘Everyone for themselves’ mentality that we’ve been taught by other people.

We do foolish things like give without counting the cost, visiting and spending time with people that our society counts as throwaways, helping people to get well or better, even though we might risk sickness or poverty for ourselves. We do them because Jesus showed us that they are the best way to really enjoy the gift of life that we all share; and the way to really learn to be ourselves, full of humility and joy that has been the puzzlement of people who were ‘in it for themselves’ ever since the Jesus first pioneered the path.

This Lent, maybe God is calling you to try a little foolishness.

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