Remember spaghetti trees, the spoof islands of San Seriffe and left-handed hamburgers? They are just three of the more famous April Fool’s Day hoaxes practised by the media on an unsuspecting public. And if you live with or near a practical joker, you’ll probably spend this Sunday morning in a slight state of tension: what will they arrange for you this year? April Fool’s Day this year falls on Palm Sunday, when the churches will be remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. They’ll be starting the most solemn week of the Christian calendar – Holy Week. Would it be in bad taste to slip a little wind-up into the morning service? Not necessarily.
Jesus has been called God’s Clown, the Holy Fool. True, he didn’t wear a red nose; and he protested at the abuse of the Temple by throwing out the moneychangers, not custard-pieing the High Priest. But in the Gospels, Jesus is constantly surprising people, overturning their religious expectations about the right way to worship God. He stages his arrival in Jerusalem as the people’s king by riding on a donkey, not a war-horse. He allows a prostitute to pour her perfume over him at a posh party – and tells her God loves her. And Jesus’ lesson on leadership to his followers is in washing their grubby feet. “You really want to live? Then give your life away,” is his teaching, and he lives and dies by it on the cross. And just when a fatal mix of religion and politics has him banged up in the grave – surprise! On the third day he’s alive, and the custard pie is squarely in the face of death! Easter rings with the laughter of Love.
Try it for yourself. Try it at a church near you.
Rev’d Simon White