It somehow seems appropriate that, just before I started to write this, I watched a fierce snow blizzard tear through the trees outside my window, only to be replaced by benign sunshine a few moments later. After a mostly warm and sunny March we’ve had scarcely believable weather on its last day!
Today (as you read this) is April Fool’s Day, a noble tradition which dates back centuries, possibly even millennia. Its origins are much disputed: the most plausible is that the day as we now know it began in 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one, meaning that New Year’s Day became 1st January not 1st April. A lot of French people didn’t get the memo and celebrated in the last week of March leading up 1st April anyway – provoking taunts from those in the know who pinned a ‘poisson d’Avril’ (April fish) to the backs of those caught out.
The tradition spread, taking a more definite shape in the 18th century with fake errands and other japes, and it is now customary to play some sort of prank on 1st April every year. The BBC famously did so in 1957 with its spaghetti trees, and even big business has got in on the act: Taco bell played a blinder in 1996 by declaring that they had bought the iconic symbol of American independence – the Liberty Bell – which would henceforth be known as the Taco Liberty Bell. Burger King has also managed to get people asking for ‘left-handed whoppers’ on 1st April, too.
It’s all a bit of harmless fun – but I was reminded of today’s passage, which makes a more serious point. We have an amazing message of love, hope, peace, purpose, and we wouldn’t swap it for the world – but not everyone agrees. Indeed, as St Paul says, ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.’ How can a king die on a cross? What sort of a Saviour is he? Such words have been spat at Jesus ever since Good Friday, and sadly many still think the same today.
But… ‘to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ So, whatever people might say, God choose this ‘foolishness’ to save humanity. Why? Because ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.’ The kingdom of God turns everything upside down: and, amazingly, this ‘foolish’ message is the source of life.
I hope you enjoy a bit of fun today. And as you celebrate ‘foolishness’, give thanks that another foolish message is the source of your life, your light and your salvation.