April Fools Day? Not a Joking Matter this Time

Do we need April fools day? This is the annual occasion for jokes and pranks to be performed on each other, all with the disclaimer “April fools!”

I’m asking for an exemption this time around.

This whole year seems to be one giant prank thus far. Did Kobe Bryant and his daughter really die in a helicopter crash? What about those tornadoes in central Tennessee? These seem to horrible jokes on those families in particular and the rest of us who are concerned friends and neighbors.

And now, of course, we’re dealing with the COVID-19 virus and I’ve used the phrase “social distancing” more than I can count. We are all trying to figure out how to exist while maintaining that 6 foot radius between us. It’s a challenging prospect to continue life and ministry within this context, and the rules from our federal and state agencies seem to be changing on a daily basis. Our governor most recently declared a “safer at home” approach for life and business at least for the next two weeks. So, that leaves us figuring out what we should and should not do to stop the spread of this virus.

This year was supposed to be the one in which we’re all having “2020 Vision” and if that’s still the case, then what we are seeing so far is bringing tears to our eyes. Everything that has been planned or was going to be planned has been postponed, cancelled, or modified to a virtual format (if possible).

In some ways, these circumstances have made us all look pretty foolish.

This season of disruption is still ongoing, but I’m wondering what we are all going to be able to learn from all this. I think one of the primary lessons could be how small we really are and that all those plans we’ve made are subject to change without much notice. It’s taking a virus to teach us the need for flexibility and new ways of going on about our business.

I’m also concerned about the psychological and emotional toll this season is having on us. I don’t agree at all that Christians are being persecuted right now just because churches are being asked not to gather for a while. Pastors who are leading their churches to meet as usual  aren’t being responsible “shepherds of God’s flock.” We’ve got to do our best to “bend the curve” for the well-being of us all, and especially for all those health care providers who need us to stay at home.

We’re all pretty stressed these days. And, what has almost been forgotten during the days of COVID-19, is that we are also in the days of Lent. Palm Sunday is upon us, and with that the beginning of Holy Week and realizing what Jesus experienced during his last few days on earth. Pastor types like myself are left wondering how to commemorate the week without bringing our people together. It’s a struggle, and I’m trying to embrace the moment with creativity and humility. We’re all trying to do the best we can.

So, with all the variables at play, let’s give each other a break. Let’s agree to be kind to each other rather than careless with each other on April 1st. Perhaps after doing this, we might just continue this practice in the days ahead.

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