In 1582 in France, when Pope Gregory XIII changed the Christian calendar from the Julian calendar, which was implemented by Julius Caesar, to his Gregorian calendar, it changed the date of the new year from April 1 to January 1. This is the time when people began being called "April fools." So, if you missed the memo or the email, not only were you deemed a fool for not celebrating the new year on the correct date, but you would have tricks played on you for the sake of a good laugh at your foolishness. I am afraid I have been the victim of many April 1 pranks. Maybe you have had your sugar bowl filled with salt, your cereal switched or your hopes set high on some fabulous news only to learn what you heard was untrue. Usually these pranks leave a mouth curled and a heart broken if pushed too far. However, I admit it can be quite entertaining to watch someone leap 3 feet out of bed because they think they have overslept and to scream April Fool's right before they land- not that I have ever done this. Whether or not I have a great scheme up my sleeve this year, 2018 is a little different.
April 1 is Easter. The date of Easter is different each year because the calendar date revolves around the March equinox. Jesus' resurrection was during the time of Jewish Passover, which was celebrated during the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In order for me to explain or understand further, I will have to go back to school and retake Astronomy. The "C" in my college Astronomy class is not getting me very far. So, I will trust my desk calendar when it says Easter will be celebrated on a fool's day this year.
The resurrection is the climax of my faith. My entire belief system rests on this one event. Without the resurrection, without a Living God, Christianity is not set apart. The calendar coinciding a holiday such as April Fool's Day on the same day the church universal celebrates Easter has really offended me. I am thinking that we could work around this equinox thing just this time and give Easter its proper place. However, as I mull over the merging of these two days the more I see a connection. I mean Easter is the ultimate example of things not being as they seem.
The story of the resurrection in the gospels leaves much to the imagination. We can only imagine how Jesus left that tomb. I would hope that he jumped and danced and shouted and with buoyancy and unbridled excitement as he yelled "death, where is your victory?" (In my head it's bit more irreverent with Jesus turning his head and saying "Peace Out-Watcha' think of this" but I didn't say that out loud.)
To those who led him to the cross and nailed his hands and feet, this is the greatest GOTCHA ever. Even more so, imagine how foolish the disciples felt when they saw Jesus walk into the room and they realized they had not understood or believed him when he predicted his resurrection. "Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead (Matthew 20:19).
It seems we can all be a fool at times. Doesn't scripture teach that when a person denies the truth of who Christ is and what He did on the cross, he is like a fool? But Paul also writes to his brothers and sisters in Christ in Corinth that they are deceiving themselves when they buy into the ways of the world. He says in order to be wise the world must be foolishness. If the world's standards are the measure for our wisdom...then, my friend, be a fool (1 Corinthians 3). All throughout Proverbs the writer contrasts wisdom with foolishness, the wise and the fool. "The fear of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" Proverbs 1:7.
What could have been seen as the darkest day in history is actually the inauguration of the brightest. When the world saw death, Christ became Life. What seemed to be the end of the story was actually the beginning. When Jesus willingly put his arms across the splintered wooded beams, it made him a fool in the eyes of the people, but, in the words from the famous sermon by S.M. Lockridge "It's Friday...but Sunday's a Comin." Despite the gnawing in my gut over my sacred Easter day being bombarded with April Fool's hilarity as they did in the 16th century, I am reminded of the words of Paul in I Corinthians 1:18, "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it's the very power of God."
The Power of God...If Easter and April Fool's Day "had a battle" (the words of my 6 year old son), Easter would win hands down!
And...if I were you... I would check your sugar bowl before you fix your coffee on Easter morning. Who knows, the Easter Bunny just might play a few tricks himself!