April 2018

Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.

“It’s a joke!” “You’re joking!”

April Fool’s day works on the principle of trying to play a joke on somebody, trying to catch them out, getting them to believe something that isn’t really the case – but it might be true.

For the first time in decades, Easter Sunday falls on April Fool’s day this year. Is Easter a joke, or is it trying to get people to believe something that really isn’t the case?

For Christians, Easter Sunday is THE DAY, the day of resurrection. On the third day Jesus, who had been crucified, appeared to his followers. His tomb was empty. The stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled away. Does this sound too good to be true? If it is true then death itself has been conquered; how so, when clearly everybody is destined to die?

One way of trying to explain this is to think back to WW2. The key event was the success of the D-day landings on 6th June 1944. Once the Allies had landed then it was just a matter of time. In less than a year, VE day was being celebrated. Christians see the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as being decisive in deciding the final victory of God and his good purposes against sin, death and evil. Is this claim a poor joke, too good to be true? Or is it in line with our sense that life is worth living and that it is worth contributing our ‘penny’s worth’ in the mopping up operations.

In Matthew’s gospel we read that on that first Easter Sunday, an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. Was the angel tired? Or is this a joke at death’s expense? That which was meant to seal the tomb, that which symbolised the finality of death, is now useful only as a seat for one of God’s angels. The stone becomes ‘a bit of a joke’.

The question remains as to whether Christians are trying to get people to believe something that isn’t true. Yet if Jesus really did rise from the dead, then there is someone who can accompany each one of us through death itself, into life eternal in the presence of God. Who do you think will have the last laugh?

Every blessing,

Robert Draycott (Rev)

About Robert Draycott

After training at Regent's Park College Oxford for the Baptist Ministry I was ordained in 1976. My first Church was Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Then our whole family moved to Brasil where I served with the BMS in a variety of roles including teaching Theology and Biblical studies in Campo Grande. From 1992 -2010 I was Chaplain and Head of RS at Eltham College. I was Interim Minister of Eltham URC 2012-14, before moving to Gloucester in 2015.
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