April Fools’ Day and Easter Day
April starts with Easter Day. When I was growing up, we had a pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. Only the white rabbit saved you before noon! I never really questioned it and did not welcome the pinch or the punch. Sadly, I could not resist rising above it and I have inflicted the same misery on other poor people. April the first is unique for playing pranks on other people so they become the April fool. Many of us have been victims of being April fools or else our elaborate plans to fool someone have landed us in trouble we had not anticipated. April fools’ day appears in Canterbury Tales, there is a very long tradition. Again, I have no idea why this happens or what it signifies. I hope it is just a bit of fun. There is something about a new month, a new season that is very important and exciting. It marks a new beginning, a fresh start. It allows us to have fresh hope or draw a line under a difficult phase of our lives.
Easter Day starts early in the morning when the women return to the tomb to complete the burial process for Jesus. They come to the tomb to confront death and the scars of execution by crucifixion. They show great courage to return and bear witness to the horror inflicted on Jesus. To their amazement they do not reencounter death, they stumble on emptiness. Everything is there as they left it except the stone has been rolled away, the guards have disappeared and there is no dead body. It must have been both baffling and upsetting. It might have felt like an April fools trick. They are not left alone for long. They meet angels, God’s messengers, who redirect the women from death to life, burial to resurrection and from despair to hope.
Easter Sunday presents us with two gifts, that of hope and new life through the resurrection. The hope has always been part of the promise of a relationship with God. The new life through resurrection is a change in the way we view our lives and heaven. Jesus gives both proof of this new life and the grace to receive it. Yet this is outside of our own experience and this makes this new order so much more difficult to believe. It requires faith rather than proof; this is quite a stumbling block for many.
Many people regarded Jesus as foolish for not saving himself. If he was all powerful like God, why go through the pain of betrayal, arrest, humiliation and death? This is not greatness; it is weakness yet, through this weakness, God works to bring greatness. Surely, the foolishness is to think that we know better than God and we continue to be foolish if we ignore what Easter hope brings to all of us.
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