‘You’ll never guess what… it’s snowing!’
This is my standard April Fool’s Day prank on my family, as I know it’ll get them all out of bed to look out of the window on 1 April. However, with such recent snowfall in March in the UK, the novelty of spring snowfall is wearing thin and I might need to think up a new ruse this year.
I started to wonder where the custom of playing practical jokes on this day had arisen and came across a whole host of international explanations, ranging from the Hilaria festival of ancient Rome to the Holi celebration in India. Some have proposed that the modern custom originated in France in 1564 when Charles IX decreed that the new year would no longer begin on Easter, as had been common throughout Christendom, but rather on 1 January. As Easter is determined by the lunar cycle, it’s a moveable feast and perhaps was causing the monarch issues with his tax returns. Apparently, those who clung to the old ways were labelled ‘April Fools’. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘although the day has been observed for centuries, its true origins are unknown and effectively unknowable.’
As we draw close to Easter, I wonder if you’ve ever been accused of being a fool for believing in the resurrection of Christ and challenged about the true origins of our Christian story? If we read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we are in fact encouraged to be ‘Fools for Christ’ (1 Corinthians 4:10). This ‘foolishness’ included the rejection of common social rules of hypocrisy, brutality and quest for power and gains. Instead, we are called to imitate Christ, who endured mockery and humiliation from the crowd.
So, what does this mean for Messy Church? Perhaps our journey through Holy Week will remind us to imitate Jesus’ righteous anger, displayed as he turned over the money-changers tables in the temple. Where do we see injustice in our communities and our cultural structures?
Maybe we’re called to imitate Jesus’ servant-hearted attitude to leadership, and wash the feet of those who come to Messy Church this week?
Perhaps God is calling us to simply risk looking like a fool by sharing the story of Easter… this foolish-sounding plan of the God who loves everyone, who does not want to remain unknown and unknowable, but has provided through Jesus, a way for us to be in right relationship with our creator. It’s an epic story of betrayal, arrest, a fabricated trial, death on a cross and the surrender of a holy life.
I wonder if the disciples felt foolish to believe Mary Magdalene when she claimed, ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (John 20:18)? Perhaps we sometimes feel foolish to claim that Jesus is alive today. I take comfort that the gospels are full of eye-witness accounts of the risen Jesus and put my confidence in God’s promise to send the Holy Spirit to help us and give us the words to speak God’s truth.
I wish you every blessing in all your Easter Messy Church endeavours – do share your stories through the BRF Messy Church social media channels.
Let’s be Messy Church April Fools for Christ this Easter!
Aike Kennett-BrownBRF Messy Church ministry lead