RON McCLUNG

Watch yourself, April Fools’ Day is coming and you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a practical joke.

Some people — and even businesses — have gone to great lengths to dupe people. In 1996, the Taco Bell fast-food chain announced it had made plans to purchase the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

Not to be outdone, a couple of years later, the Burger King fast-food chain advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper.” Scores of clueless customers ordered the fake sandwich. Once again, April Fools.

Where did all this “foolishness” get its start?

Some historians speculate it began in 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who didn’t get the memo that the date of the New Year had changed still celebrated it at the end of March or early April, instead of the new beginning date of Jan. 1.

Consequently, they became the butt of many jokes about their failure to catch on to the new way of doing things.

One of the pranks involved having a paper fish attached to one’s back.

Such persons would be referred to as “poisson d’avril,” or “April fish.”

The expression symbolized a young, easily caught fish or a gullible person.

Others have cited various origins for this favorite holiday of pranksters. But however it began, it behooves you to be on your guard. Some people love to catch you falling for their pranks.

To be thought of as a fool is not a compliment. The psalmist said, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Many people who deny God’s existence are not true atheists, but are practical atheists.

They behave as if God does not matter.

Someone said, “Our problem is that we take ourselves too seriously and we don’t take God seriously enough.” Probably true.

My recommendation — for April Fools’ Day and every day — acknowledge God, honor God, and don’t be caught living a foolish life, in which God is not a factor.

— The Rev. Ron McClung, a former pastor of Owosso Wesleyan Church, now living in Indianapolis, Indiana, currently serves as the assistant general secretary for the denomination.

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