Clowning Around

It was the 150th year of the Diocese and each church was to host the ‘Sesquicentennial Cross’. The church we belonged to, at that time, had the cross on a Sunday which meant we got an Archbishop thrown in with the deal. These were the waning days of the ‘March for Jesus’ movement and so we sang and marched the cross around the block all the while singing Graham Kendrick songs. Along the way I engaged in conversation with a guy who was obviously curious about our activities. I told him and invited him to finish the rest of the walk with us and join our festive service. Surprisingly, he joined us! Early in the service, as the Archbishop plunked on his mitre, he whispered to me, “This church is so cool, you even have clowns!”

This incident is on my mind as I contemplate yet another procession with a cross. Our church is planning to walk with a cross this Good Friday. The plan is to walk by the mall across the street and around the block. I always feel a bit foolish on these ventures. I feel like there are many other ways I might be more effective in witnessing to Christ, and perhaps there are! This though is one way and I have decided to join the throng. I can be involved in other methods of evangelism every other day, but this is a unique opportunity to feel foolish which I cannot pass up.

Fools and clowns are my heroes. In olden times they were the truth tellers. Fools could say in jest the things that others dared not voice. Paul describes himself as “A Fool for Christ”. We misunderstand this because our knowledge of fools and foolishness is quite different than previously.

One of my favourite Saints is Francis who saw himself as “God’s Troubadour” very much in the image of a fool. His namesake the Bishop of Rome has just returned from a Francis-like trip to the Middle East. Like the original he sued for peace and understanding. Such calls for peace in this bellicose world seem foolish and destined to little success, yet the world has seen an example of “a more excellent way”. This is no failure!

On Good Friday, I predict, I will feel foolish. I will wonder about the potential of these efforts to nudge a single heart or mind. I will know though that my fellow sojourners and I will have the opportunity to be fools. Perhaps the great cloud of witnesses will look at us and say, “This church is so cool, you even have clowns!”

The truth is that the cross is always foolishness to the world and Jesus says that if like the bronze serpent in the wilderness, he is lifted up, that he will draw men and women, boys, and girls! I cannot give up an opportunity to be a part of that and I cannot let the chance to be a fool pass me by.  

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