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"We are fools for Christ . . ." - 1 Corinthians 4:10a, NIV
Today is April Fool's Day. I have heard that some have chosen to cancel whatever April Fool's Day celebrations were planned because of the pandemic. I can understand that. With the seriousness of all that's going on, it just doesn't seem appropriate for now. Last week a friend of mine emailed that he had watched our first online worship service. Because he doesn't go to our church, it gave him the opportunity to experience our worship service. He talked about how he liked the service. But then he added one suggestion, that perhaps the service needed some humor. I must admit his comment caught me a little off guard. Because of the seriousness of the pandemic -- the loss of life, the spreading sickness, and the loss of jobs -- humor just didn't feel right to me.
Now I certainly believe humor has its place, and sometimes it helps us get through difficult times. On the other hand, I can remember wanting to make a joke when things were very serious, probably because I was uncomfortable with what was going on. Also, I am not sure if humor is really my forte. I've always admired preachers who seemed to have the ability to entertain with the timing of a comedian. Humor can also open us up and laughter can break down barriers. I guess I will just leave that kind of humor to those who do it well.
When Paul says in his letter to the church at Corinth that "we are fools for Christ" -- he is not saying that we are court jesters or clowns. In Paul's day the dominant worldviews were Greek, Roman, and Jewish. Paul was fluent in all three. But from a Greek perspective, the idea of Jesus as the Son of God who comes in the flesh and dies on a cross seemed foolish. But for those of us who are "fools for Christ" -- it is God's true wisdom and the way of life!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, help us to risk being "fools for Christ" -- even in the face of the world's laughter. And may the love and grace of Jesus the Christ shine through our "foolish" lives. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. "Who is this?" they asked. The crowds answered, "It's the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."
On Sunday, we will remember this familiar story of Palm Sunday and joined with those in the story who came from far away to see Jesus. Those who may have experienced Jesus' healing power or those who merely heard of his miracles. Jesus' ministry so captured people's hearts and minds that they traveled far to see him.
When we remember Palm Sunday, we break the practice of examining our lives during Lent and instead we join the gathered community to welcome Jesus into the Holy City.
We are reminded as we shout "Hosanna!" and wave our palm branches, that thousands of years ago, there were common people with uncommon courage who stood together to join "the one who comes in the name of the Lord" [v. 9].
Since we will not be together in person in the Chapel on Sunday, I would like to invite you to join in our Palm Sunday celebration by taking a picture of your family with palm branches. You can gather some from your yard or you can use one of these files (color in or print) to wave in your picture. Email your photo to me (email@example.com) and you'll receive a slideshow Palm Sunday parade video this weekend.
We are seeing story after story of how ordinary people have come together to accomplish something great. The small group that shows up to volunteer at the food bank week after week. Volunteers who serve as first responders in times of disaster.
Remember these stories and countless others that you have seen or heard so that you might find the courage to march with Jesus to proclaim a word of peace, reconciliation, and hope.
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, Open our hearts and minds to the messages of this Lent season. Prepare us for Palm Sunday. Help us to see both the joy and the sacrifice that took place. In Christ's Name, Amen.
Yesterday I facilitated Solace, a new type of on-line support we are offering to you so that we can stay connected during this time of social distancing. Each week, I will be leading our on-line support meeting on Wednesdays at noon and Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. Please join us!
We talked about what it means to shelter in place and how our lives have been affected. One phenomenon that I found most interesting is how time disoriented many of us have become because we are out of our routines. A television station in Indianapolis posted this picture to help their viewers with their confusion.
Relax! Today is Monday and not Thursday. Has time confusion happened to you?
Amidst the chaos and confusion there is a clarity that our faith can provide. Psalm 46 brings the clarity of God being in our midst during times such as these.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble...Psalm 46:1 A Bible scholar I read says that the root word for refuge here comes from the verb to flee or to take shelter. I can't think of a more appropriate verse for our call to shelter in place. The call with which the Psalmist beckons us in faith is to lessen our fear because we have been called to shelter in place with our God. As Psalm 46 proceeds there are scary moments; the earth gives way, the mountains fall into the heart of the sea with the waters roaring and foaming. How can you not experience fear? In this fear the psalmist offers comfort.
There is a river running through the city; a city where God has taken up residency! The psalmist states: "God is with her, she shall not fall; God will help her at break of day." The Bible scholar notes that the break of day literally means the turning of the face of morning to us; God's face turned to us in our struggles.
Have you noticed how much more you enjoy looking at faces in these days of sheltering in place? Perhaps in them you see the face of God reflected through the ones in who were made in his image.
Our next Solace is Wednesday at noon. Login information is posted on the JCPC Facebook page.
Prayer for Today
As we shelter in place, Most High, help us see you reflected in the faces of others. May our acts of loving kindness bring light into our world's darkness and may the fellowship of the Holy Spirit hold us close; one to another. Amen.