Monday, April 1st
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 1st: Leviticus 23:26-41; Psalm 53; and Revelation 19:1-8. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Today is April Fool’s Day. The story behind April Fool’s is that when New Year’s was moved to January 1st to be closer to the Winter Solstice and the lengthening days there were some people who clung stubbornly to the old New Year’s of April 1st, the Springtime New Year. The ones who refused to change were called “April Fools” for their inflexibility.
In today’s Psalm, we basically hear God’s definition of the fool as the ones who “say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’” Fool is a harsh word for a person who chooses not to believe in God because there are intelligent, moral people who look at the world and cannot see evidence of the Divine. Some even doubt God because of the way God- fearing people act and talk. But let’s look a bit closer at how the Psalmist defines the fool.
Even thousands of years ago, people concerned about the faith were concerned that few bothered to look for God. The Psalmist expresses this disenchantment as: “God looks down form heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.” People are called foolish by God because “there is no one who does good, no, not one. Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as they eat bread …” The fool is not defined only by looking for the unseen God. The fool is the one who cares nothing for his or her fellow human being. They treat them callously and selfishly. The fool is so nonchalant in the mistreatment of others that they eat-up “my people as they eat bread.”
God encourages His followers to treat others with respect and gratitude. Look at the examples shared today from Leviticus of Jewish feast days. They call upon all the people to rest and to share, to celebrate the gifts of life together and with God. The fool is the one who is the opposite, the one defined by greed and consumption.
It has become completely acceptable and in some cases in vogue to discount God, but when God comes to a person, reveals Himself in some way, shows Himself in the good that is accomplished in His holy name, we need not be obstinate in our refusal to believe.
Lent is a time to focus on the message that Jesus not only preached, not only lived, but was willing to die for. When we look at His gospel and compare it to all the ills our world suffers, maybe believing in God and following Christ are not as absurd as some may propose and then hold on to stubbornly. Let us who believe work diligently at demonstrating the reality of Jesus by giving evidence of the reality of His life in our lives and in what we do. In this way, may we help others to believe too.
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