One of the earliest recorded April Fools’ hoaxes in England took place in 1689 when several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to see the lions being washed. That was the beginning of a long tradition of hoaxes and practical jokes on the day to catch out people and make them an ‘April Fool’. The more recent hoaxes have been on the TV or through the internet – the story of spaghetti farmers showing pictures of bushes with spaghetti growing on them caused a rush of people wanting to purchase bushes of their own – means that on April 1st there is a tendency to question any news item that appears. Is it an April Fools’ joke?
This year Easter day falls on the 1st April. Christians believe that Easter day celebrates the news that Jesus, crucified in a brutal and public way, rose from the dead and was seen alive, over the next few weeks, by countless people. Jesus, son of God, conquered death and gave us all hope.
On the day when many parts of the world celebrate April Fools’ Day we are made to reflect on the writing of St. Paul to the young church in Corinth. The people of Corinth prided themselves on their wisdom. They weren’t willing to believe that an almighty God could allow his Son to die a shameful death on a cross – the victim of Roman brutality. They considered the teaching of Paul and other Christians as total foolishness. Paul understood this. He wrote in his first letter to them:
‘We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.’ 1 Corinthians 1: 23 – 25
We believe that God really did send his Son to live a human life and die a shameful death to overcome the power of death. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead, on that first glorious Easter morning and through his conquering of death we have been given eternal life in fullness, richness and abundance.
So this year, on April Fools’ day, we will celebrate God’s great joke over sin and death. We will celebrate his gift to us all – that through his Son Jesus, we know not only God’s foolishness, but his eternal love and grace to us. To those who believe God does not make them April Fools, but makes them heirs to his kingdom and his beloved children.