What a rare opportunity this year! It brings a smile to the face. Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day and Easter will be celebrated on April Fool’s Day. So couples beaming romance will have smudges on their foreheads as they wine and dine in cupid’s throes. And pranks will be played on the day that’s no joke for Christians around the world. The last time Easter fell on April Fools’ Day was in 1956. After 2018, the next one is 2029, and then again in 2040—but after that, not again in this century.
It’s thought that the practice of pranking on the first of April comes from 16th century France. The Christian world had moved from the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar, 45 B.C.) to the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII, 1548). The change moved the New Year celebration from April 1 to January 1. Those still using the Julian calendar were “fooled” by the new date and pranks were played on those who didn’t change with the times. So the pranks continue!
I loved the one put on by the BBC news show Panorama. On April 1, 1957, they announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in! Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree; to which the BBC diplomatically replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Just fooling!!
There’s no fooling with the resurrection for we Christians, though, even when it falls on April 1. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that if Christ isn’t raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain and void of any hope. We would remain lost in our sins. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… For in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (2 Cor. 15:20,22) That’s Good News for you and me. Fool that I am, that’s the kind of wisdom I need to face the challenges that came fresh with each new day. Even death has to give way to us through the gift of faith we have in our victorious Lord Jesus Christ!
Just look at how the disciples lived after seeing and touching and eating with the risen Christ! They went from fearful fools, locked behind closed doors, to courageous witnesses of Christ with a story to share! In my mind the greatest proof that Jesus is risen from the dead is the way they gave their lives for Him. At any point they could have turned their backs on Jesus. They could have claimed that this whole resurrection was simply an April fool’s hoax. They would have saved their earthly lives at least for a time. But they had seen the resurrected Christ and they knew His promise to prepare a place for each of them. They could never turn their back on Jesus. So they boldly shared their sure and certain hope in the risen, living Savior!
Indeed, death doesn’t have the last word! It didn’t with Jesus and it won’t with us. Heaven is certain and Jesus with us all along the way makes the difference in our lives all along the way. May we be courageous in the sharing of Jesus and in the way we live in the face of challenge because “Alleluia, Christ is risen!! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!! No joke!!