By: Pastor Mary Beth Hartenstein
I am writing this reflection on Tuesday, April 1 – April Fool’s Day. I can remember both loving and hating this day. I loved it when I got to play a “trick” on someone else and it worked; I hated it when I was the one that had gotten “tricked.” Unfortunately playing pranks on another has never really worked out well for me.
One example of a prank gone badly happened when I was attending 4-H summer camp as a young adult. Another young adult female and I smashed up potato chips and placed them in a young male counselor’s sleeping bag; getting him back for having teased us all day long. As the campers were supposed to be getting ready for bed, we hear Al’s voice yelling, “Run! Run! You’re going to run till someone tells me who made that mess in my sleeping bag!” Here were these poor young campers running in the near dark for something they had not done. Yikes! The other young woman and I went to confess our prank to the Camp Director and then we went to Al. We had tears running down our faces as we told each of them about what we had done. This was not the way this prank was supposed to unfold.
In the reflection for today in the United Church of Christ Lenten resource, Calmly Plotting, spoke about being foolish as we practice our faith. Matt Laney, author of the reflection, put it this way, “I know plenty of believers (including me more often than I care to admit) who acknowledge God with their lips but deny God with their lives.” It reminded me that sometimes the practice of my faith goes as badly as the prank that I planned that day for Al. I had the best of intentions and yet it backfired. The living out of my faith backfires too sometimes.
Here is the prayer that Laney had written that is my prayer for my life and for our lives together as Hope United Church of Christ. “Holy God, we know you are not impressed by belief alone, so may the lives we live bear witness to the beliefs we hold. Amen.”