Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Easter Fool

This sermon was given at our Easter Sunday service - Sunday April 1st 2018. As well as being Easter Sunday, it was April Fool's Day.

Oh - hang on a minute.

Dons jester’s hat

That's better.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
RESPONSE:         He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

I was half-expecting at least one or two of you to shout back at me, ‘April Fool!’ instead, there.

Let’s be honest – there are many people out there this morning making similar jokes, I suspect – 'those foolish Christians, sitting in church, celebrating a god who doesn’t exist dying and rising again. April Fool to them!'

And, if you think about it – really think about it – what we believe is foolish. St Paul says so himself in his letter to the church in Corinth. He tells them that, to the world, for the people who do not know Christ, “the message of the cross is foolishness

And it is

…imagine it afresh, as if you’d never heard it before – God, the all-powerful, almighty, all-knowing creator of the universe chose to become a part of his own creation, and then allowed his own creation to kill him! Not only that, but he then turned all our known-laws of life completely upside-down, coming back to life with the message that we need no longer be enslaved sin – no longer enslaved to those things that we do and keep doing that harm our relationships with God and others, that, through his dying and his rising, he has provided a way out of that vicious circle. And, not just that, but that death itself is now defeated! Death is dead, and with Christ’s rising, everlasting life is now a free gift available to all!

It is foolish!

The foolishness of thinking God would lay down his life for us!

The foolishness of believing in the resurrection, and everlasting life!

The foolishness of thinking that the cross – an instrument of death – could bring life!

The foolishness of God!

If God has done this, he’s gone mad, hasn’t he? Hasn’t he? He’s the ultimate April Fool. What on earth – or in heaven – could make someone behave in this way? What foolish emotion makes someone put others before themselves? What foolish emotion makes someone lay down their own life for the sake of others?

What’s that old 50s song by Frankie Lymon? “Oh wah, ooh wah, o-oh wah, ooh wah, oh wah, ooh waah – Why do fools fall in love?

The answer to Frankie’s question is, they don’t (or rather, they do, but no more than anyone else does). Fools don’t fall in love; lovers become fools. Love makes us foolish… and God is love.

The foolishness of love. The foolishness of God. St Paul says that God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom

Love – the foolishness of love is wiser than our own wisdom. Thank God for that!

The foolishness of love permeates through everything today - today of all days.

I mentioned Paul's letter to the church in Corinth earler. Later in that same letter, St Paul talks about the resurrection, stating that if Christ had not been raised from the dead, our faith is in vain, and we are to be most pitied. What fools we would be here this morning if the resurrection had not happened!

But, I’m not here this morning because I believe Christ was not raised from the dead. I’m here because I believe he was. And, I hope you believe that too – or, if you don’t, then I hope you at least want to believe that; that you think – at least – that the resurrection of Christ would be a good thing in which to believe; that you'd like to be a believer in Christ and his resurrection. Or else, why are you here? Only a fool would turn up voluntarily this morning if they felt the resurrection was a foolish thing in which to believe.

But… if that is you, then welcome! – you are in good company, amongst the rest of us fools in here! For we are either foolish in believing something that did not happen, or we become fools because it did and in our belief that it did – for if the resurrection is real, then – woah! – what a mind-blowing, game-changing, stupefying thought that is! It’s enough to make us as joyful as a pardoned death-row prisoner, as giddy as a school-child on Christmas day, as foolish as a teenager in love!

For today is a foolish, joyous, frabjous day! It is – as we sang earlier – our triumphant holy day! Jesus Christ is risen, and the knowledge of what that means makes me want to dance like a fool, makes me want to shout for joy, makes me want to beam from ear to ear like a prize moron!

Because, if this is real – and I believe this is real – then the world has changed; death is no more! Sin cannot win! God is foolish enough to love each one of us enough to die for us! Today shows that the foolish beliefs that the first will be last, the last will be first, the dead will be raised, that good will out, and that Love Wins may well be foolish, but they are true!

And, I may be a fool to believe in all of this, but that’s fine by me! I don’t want the wisdom of the world; the wisdom that teaches us that greed is good, that worldly salvation comes through hard-work and/or hoodwinking our neighbour, the wisdom that some people, with more success, or more money, or more beauty, or more brains, are more important than others. No - if that is wisdom, I can do without it.

Give me, instead, the foolishness of grace; the foolishness of mercy, the foolishness of love and the foolishness of the cross. Because that foolishness is the powerful foolishness of God that forgives sin, the powerful foolishness of God that loves until it dies, and then raises the dead and loves some more, and the powerful foolishness of God that changes the world! I hope you’re with me; I’m foolish enough to believe that you are!

So… come, my merry band of holy fools! God’s foolishness changed the world; our foolishness can do so too! Let us go into the world and love like fools, for today, we are all April Fools – and thank Christ for that!

Alleluia! Amen!

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