Column: Day I was an April Fool
It was a little embarrassing.
I normally pride myself on noting the ‘April Fool’ stories in newspapers or on the radio, but in 2012 I fell for one… big time. It was because it was from an unexpected quarter, like the infamous spaghetti tree report of Richard Dimbleby in 1957 on Panorama. Well in 2012 the ‘Sunday’ programme on BBC Radio 4 ran a story at 7.15am that caught me out. They claimed that in Surrey there was a shortage of donkeys and so parishes were being forced to use llamas instead. It fed all my prejudices and so I mentioned it with disdain in my 8am sermon. Half way through preaching about it at 10.30 at the same parish in the north of Preston, complete with a donkey present, I realised I had been caught hook line and sinker. This year Easter Day is April Fool’s day and the phrase of St Paul about the cross being, ‘a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles’ springs to mind. Springtime brings many images of new life and freshness: daffodils; eggs and chickens; young lambs gambolling in the fields and the like. Many clergy will use these images from nature to try to explain about Easter and its message of transformation and vitality. However, they are only pointers, the stark truth at the heart of the Easter message is that Jesus was killed on a cross, placed in a tomb and then was found to be raised from the dead. For many this is either too much to grasp or it is a stumbling block. For others it sounds simply like folly or foolishness.Christians hold that the Good News of Easter is no ‘April Fool’! It is a truth that reveals what life is really about and all that God has done for us. It is not simply the same again in a natural cycle of birth, life, death and the pulse of springtime but a new and transformed way of being; a glimpse of eternity, of transformation and a whole new life. To believe this is indeed an act of faith and to many others it is all a bit too much. ‘The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God’ for while the Roman authorities thought crucifying Jesus would put an end to Him and His teachings, instead it became the pivot point that led to the world seeing who He is. The empty tomb shows the power of God and is no April Fool.