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"Holy, Foolish Errand" 3rd Sunday After Pentecost - June 18, 2023

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

I learned that a friend of mine was attacked by a shark last week.

It took out his whole left side.

I couldn’t believe it when he told me he was ALL RIGHT.

I’m so terrified to ask my wife to clean up after making breakfast…

I’ve been walking on eggshells all day.

Speaking of my wife…she accused me of stealing her thesaurus.

Not only was I shocked, I was appalled, aghast, and dismayed.

My kids asked me if I’d seen the dog bowl.

I said I didn’t even know he could.

Our dog ate a whole bag of scrabble tiles.

So, I took him to the vet.

No word yet.

Just some “Dad jokes” for Father’s Day. Right? Love me some dad jokes. My favorite part of dad jokes are the look of utter exasperation on my children’s faces and the eye roll I receive from my wife. And there is even this deeper sense of satisfaction, if not…profound sense of meaning when I can do these jokes in front of their friends…and embarrass them.

And guess what?? It turns out…there is something healthy and psychologically beneficial about dad jokes. According to a study published in March by the British Psychological Society these jokes have the capacity to make us better humans by offering two benefits…

First, kids exposed to “eye-rolling humor” get a certain part of their developing brain triggered, which helps build immunity to judgment of themselves and others.

Second, because the father (or whichever parent is the teller of said jokes) is willing to embarrass themselves repeatedly with such awkward humor, it develops a resiliency in children and a kind of bravery.

Isn’t that great! Talk about a relief. For the past 15 years of being a parent I’ve put so much pressure on myself. I’ve read books. I’ve talked to older, wiser friends. I’ve spent an untold amount of time in therapy. I’ve self-examined. I’ve analyzed. I’ve apologized profusely. I’ve tried so hard…And it turns out. One of the best things I can do for my children…is be a fool. Just be a fool. If I’d only known.

Of course…other people have known about this….about being “the fool.”

What was it that Shakespeare said?? “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

“The wisest of all, in my opinion,” Dostoevsky wrote, “is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool…” And in many of his works, the Russian novelist had a fool articulating wisdom or the principal atheist speaking a theological truth.

One of Carl Jung’s archetypes is the joker, the trickster, or the fool. According to Jung, many times – in myth and literature as in life – before becoming the sage, you are first the fool. The path of wisdom intertwined with the path of folly.

Of course, we’re not here to simply soak up tidbits of interesting quotes and facts from the pools of humanities – we’re here to draw from living water, the richness of a Christ-centered life. So…

You might remember back in October in our One Bread, Once Cup, One love series we touched on Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to embrace the foolishness of the cross…to subvert the wisdom of this world with the foolishness of Christ. And over the past couple of years, I have grown more and more convinced that a church embracing the foolishness of Christ, a church that is unafraid to live like holy fools within a culture so self-impressed, so consumed with being savvy, smart, and superior might…might…make a difference. And I think…Jesus was calling for that same kind of fool-hardiness from his disciples. It sure seems that way…

This morning in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus sends out his disciples. But first…first he looks out on the huddled masses – poor people, farmers, widows, orphans, drunks, blind beggars, sneaky accountants, the lazy, the lapsed, the left-behind….and he says, “Would you look at that…would you just look at that…it’s like a beautiful, plentiful, harvest.” A harvest, he said.

What kind of eyes is he seeing with? Has this man lost his mind? But he doesn’t stop there.

He then sends these disciples out…not the most impressive lot of folks, by the way. Not a blue blood or valedictorian among them. Sends them out and says, “Don’t take any money, don’t pack, no bag, no accoutrements, just the clothes on your back, don’t even take a staff.”


Because it’s hard to juggle when your hands are full of something else, it’s hard to do cartwheels when you’re burdened by unnecessary weight. It’s hard to proclaim the arrival of an alternative kingdom when you look just like the biggest empire on the block. And that’s why they were sent out…like court jesters, proclaiming the arrival of God’s kingdom – in another king’s court…or…as it says in Matthew… they were sent out “like sheep among wolves” to be as “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Now, you could say…things got confused when the Church forgot we are court jesters in the kingdom of God, and we started acting like the rulers of our own. But that’s for another time and another place…

But what kind of journey did Jesus send these disciples?

What kind of errand did he send them on?

A fool’s errand.

Tough part is…nobody wants to be the fool. Not really. It’s hard.

The fools gets mocked, laughed at, scolded, hurt…and sometimes killed.

We hear about them all the time in church. We do. If you come on Wednesday nights you can hear about a lot of them – their stories, their challenges, failures (which are many), flaws (which are many)…yes…you can hear about all these fools…We call them by another name, we call them saints. But…I bet…I bet if you were to survey any of them from beyond the grave, “Which name fits the bill more – saint or fool?” I think we all have an inkling of how’d they respond.

I have another one for you…

Did yall ever hear the one about the God who loved the world so much…that love was revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of a poor carpenter’s son? Who said things, foolish things, like the last will be first and the first will be last, and the greatest among you must become like the least, and while the poor are feasting at the table, camels will be slipping through the eyes of needles, but the rich and powerful will still be outside trying to find a way into the party.

What a joke. Huh?

But the more we tell it…the more we live it…the more we embarrass ourselves with it…

It just might make us braver. It just might fill us with the very love in which it was told the first time.

Who knows…

We might even become the very fools we were always meant to be.

Either way, the joke is on us.


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