Bishop James Swanson: Everybody plays the fool

Bishop James Swanson: Everybody plays the fool

Bishop James Edward Swanson Sr.

Happy Easter! The season is still with us. In the early 70s a rhythm and blues group, Main Ingredient, released a recording that I still love to this day. It was, “Everybody Plays the Fool,” by Rudy Clark, Kenny Williams, and Jim Bailey. Here are the lyrics:

Everybody plays the fool, sometime.

There’s no exception to the rule.

Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel.

I ain’t lying – everybody plays the fool.

This song expresses the frustration and sometimes heartbreak that can come to someone who is willing to risk falling in love. That, my friend, is what Jesus did for us, despite the risk of playing the fool. Jesus had no guarantee that we would love him in return, and I am sure he was aware that many of us would use his love as a tool to get what we wanted.

Yet, Jesus dared to play the fool. His crucifixion, his public humiliation and terrible agony happened for love’s sake. And he bids us to follow in his footsteps.

Jesus calls us through his loving act to a sacrificial love for others. We are called to love and work with those suffering from HIV/AIDS as they gain “Strength for the Journey.” We are called to help the United Methodist Church of Brazil continue its phenomenal growth, when few of us speak Portuguese.

We are called to help people in the Red Bird Missionary Conference, when some of us are unaware of where that conference is. We are called to feed and clothe children in Africa whom we will never meet. We are called to educate women and men called to serve Christ in licensed and ordained ministry who may never serve our congregations. We are called to care for children at Holston Home for Children who have been abused and abandoned by their own parents. We are called to help the homeless and to minister to those in Alaska, India, Haiti, and on the Gulf Coast. We are called to serve in the Appalachian poverty centers; in inner cities; to folk in the hollows; and to people who are black, Hispanic, white, rich, learned, and unlearned.

Many of these people will never know that the help came from you. But like our Savior, we must be willing –yes, more than willing ­–to play the fool.

Clark, Williams, and Bailey were right when they said, How can you help it when the music starts to play, and your ability to reason is swept away? Oh, heaven on earth is all you see. You’re out of touch with reality. Now you cry, but when you’re through, the next time someone cries for you.

We become fools when we dare fall in love, and we also become recipients of the same foolish love. That’s what Easter is all about.