It was unlike anything I ever experienced as a pastor. Wide open spaces, the breeze coming off of the ocean, a sticky sweat quickly taking over my whole body, a loud speaker next to me, and silence…
I saw the faces gathered in front of me, but I could not hear their voices.
I heard the recording of the choir over the speaker, but I could not hear the congregation.
I prayed for Charlottesville and pondered the role of Jesus on the mountain as the disciples sat fearful in a boat being beaten by the winds, and I found myself alone on that mountain hearing nothing but the wind and the waves.
It was an odd feeling, knowing that there were hundreds in front of me. I am so used to hearing every rustle of the bulletin and whisper of the small child, hearing only myself and nature was unsettling.
Was I saying the right thing? Had I crossed the line? Had they all managed to fall asleep? Was it really that bad?
I had no choice but keep going, silently praying on my own that I wasn’t completely screwing up.
As I reflected on the experience of leading the beach service at Shallotte Presbyterian Church with Union alum, Joyce Winkler, she told me that many times that experience reminds her of the idea of being a “fool for Christ”.
“Fools for Christ”… What a beautiful image in such a broken time, on a day following so much hatred and hurt in Charlottesville? Standing up, completely unsure if anyone is listening or even cares, yet shouting from the mountaintop the love and grace of God, striving to live a life modeled by our Lord and Savior.
“Fools for Christ”… Crying out against injustice and persecution when so many, it seems, shrink back from exhaustion and fear.
“Fools for Christ”… Trying something new, knowing it could fail, just because what could be is so glorious.
“Fools for Christ”… Breaking-out of our comfort zones to find a new way to relate to one another, to relate to Christ, because that relationship is so much more important than that possible rejection or embarrassment.
I think I first really experienced this “fools for Christ” idea as a college student standing in front of a bunch of middle-school youth, seeking a way to get them engaged and excited for a week of work. The 6am wake-ups followed by singing “Rise and Shine” to wake them up, eating baby food in a game to break the tension, dancing and singing in the middle of the field… things I likely would not do with my friends, but if it meant getting those kids excited to be the hands of Christ, I would do anything.
As I embark on a new call, I wonder how I will be a “fool for Christ”. How will I break out of my own comfort zone and carefully placed walls so that others might encounter God in a new way? How will I find endurance in the continuous stream of new introductions when my introverted self is ready to shut-down for the day?
It was an eerie feeling, standing there and seeing hundreds of faces while hearing nothing. It is an eerie feeling to stand up when others are sitting down. It is eerie and uncomfortable, but no one ever said following Christ would be easy!
Every day, we are challenged to be a “fool for Christ”… The question is, will we allow ourselves to take that risk for what could be an incredibly beautiful reward?
I acted like a fool for those middle schoolers and they began to light up, embracing the work ahead of them. As I reconnect with some of them, 10 years later, I learn that my foolishness empowered them to make big life changes and some have even found themselves in their own ministry.
I felt like a fool, standing in the midst of noisy wind and waves but also perceived silence and loneliness, but was bombarded by conversation following worship … They really were there, they really were listening.
We don’t always know how God is working, but we can always open the space for the work to happen. And sometimes, in what I am learning are some of the best times, it just might mean that we “act a fool”.
How will you be a “fool for Christ” today?
Rev. Jordan B. Davis, ‘14
Transitional Associate Pastor, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church
Cary, North Carolina