Be a willing fool for God
The last time I moved to accept a new pastoral position within the United Methodist Church I decided that I would present a capable and dignified persona to the citizens of Sergeant Bluff.
I arrived just two weeks before RAGBRAI began in Sergeant Bluff. The church offered three breakfasts and a big spaghetti supper on Saturday evening, made hundreds of pies for the supper and other snack times, and assisted in a community worship service along with many other events.
Through all, I was able to help with and still remain, in my mind, capable and dignified.
However, my desire to be “dignified” flew right out the stained glass window, so to speak, when the wife of the Sergeant Bluff’s mayor and a member of the church told me that she expected me to be at the city limits by 6 a.m. to wave good-bye to the bikers and I should be clad in my pajamas.
I laughed heartily, as if she was joking, but she was not. So, from 6 to 9 a.m. on a hot and humid Sunday, I stood on the outskirts of the town waving good-bye to 20,000 bikers in my pajamas.
(Lest you think too harshly of me, I, unlike others who wore somewhat scanty pj’s and almost caused a number of bike accidents, carefully selected pajamas that covered my entire body from my neck to the tips of toes.)
So, I have learned my lesson and I am not even going to try to present a formal, stiff persona as I come to Mt. Pleasant.
Sooner or later, all who have a chance to know me will find out that I have a strong, weird sense of humor. I find things that simply tickle my funny bone and I cannot help but be amused and, even, laugh out loud.
And, I am willing to risk my pastoral dignity and let go of my human pride to be a “clown” for Christ and to be perceived as foolish among the people of the world — which helps to explain the church lawn chair brigades and the precision pool noodle teams I have organized and lead for local parades.
I think, though, that I am in good company: the experienced, skilled fishermen weary from a long night’s work whom Jesus told to cast their nets to the other side for a great catch; the young boy who offered to the Son of God five loaves and two fish when over five thousand people were hungry; and the centurion who believed that his servant would be healed because Jesus, a man of authority, said so.
Mark Twain wrote to William Dean Howells in 1877, “Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then, I am God’s fool, and all God’s works must be contemplated with respect.”
May we all be willing to be God’s great and sublime fools.