Holy Tuesday 3/27/18 St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, Naples. FL
A fool for Christ … the call of discipleship
Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, “The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report,” before his move to “The Late Show” was at one time, one of my favorite television shows. In an interview with Thomas Rosica, “Colbert describes his persona on the Colbert Report as a “pundit” – someone who is blissfully unaware of important facts, but confident in the rightness of his feelings.”(1) The interviewer asked him later, what it means to be a “fool for Christ.” Colbert responded, “the willingness “to be wrong in society, or wrong according to our time, but right according to our conscience, as guided by the Holy Spirit.”
Being a fool for Christ though, according to Colbert cannot be a way of life lived only in our own conscience, because we are imperfect and we show up to God’s party with our own baskets of life junk. Our worldview is framed by our experiences good and bad. Colbert said this about faith, “Logic itself will not lead me to God, but my love of the world and my gratitude for it will.” (1) Thus, to be a “fool for Christ,” we must allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and that my friends, happens in community.
Discerning Fools for Christ … listening for God’s guidance together
The Christian community is the gathering of God’s people for fellowship, teaching, the breaking of bread, the prayers, and for service to others, but we must also be equipped and empowered for mission. My mother used to say, “You are the company you keep.” Being with other people, sharing our common stories, learning from one another frames our understanding of life. Being guided by the Holy Spirit requires us to be a discerning community that together wrestles with the difficult, and what society would call, foolish notions of faith.
The Book of Common Prayer says this about the Holy Spirit, “The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God’s work.” The Holy Spirit is present, and guides, and directs the church in prayer, in baptism, in the Eucharist, in our work, and in our gathering together. So to be “Fools for Christ” we must together discern God’s leading in our mission, our fellowship, our study, and our faith. If we are to share the Good News in the world, we must be “Fools for Christ” and by so-doing, we become “Children of Light” and thus, we become a lighthouse to our community.
Illumined by God as Icons of Christ
Jesus said, “believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” The world may say we who believe in the sacred are fools, but if we live as lights in the darkness of this world, others will be drawn to the light. It may be illogical for some to see Christians serving our neighbors, feeding the poor, providing needed supplies for children, sitting with the elderly, or visiting the sick or destitute. We do this ministry not because we want to merely do good, but because we follow Our Lord who hung on a tree, and was executed because of his self-giving love for all. As Stephen Colbert said in the interview with Roscia, “Logic itself will not lead me to God, but my love of the world and my gratitude for it will.”
Are you a “Fool for Christ?” The question itself sounds offensive, but I must admit I am a “Fool for Christ.” Logic tells me that throughout my life, responding in faith and to leave behind career, home, and friends to be of service to God’s people and the cause of justice, reconciliation, and peace in Christ may be seen as just plain foolishness. So yes, I am a Fool for Christ, but I also hope that in so doing, I am becoming a “Child of the Light” but not alone, and only with God’s people.
Together we gather in the power of God’s Spirit active in this community, so that we might go out into the darkness of the world and bring joy, peace, and solace. So, as a community of light, our “affirmation of faith … (cannot) become like Stephen Colbert’s idiotic alter ego, (but) instead … (our witness must exude) … an irresistible joy,” even while facing ridicule for being so “wrong” according to society. We must be fools and lighthouses in this world, a world that needs God’s grace so desperately. We can do tha work, if we trust, rely on, and are guided by the Holy Spirit, “who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.” (2)
(2) The Book of Common Prayer, p. 852