A message from Revd Tim Buckley – Easter 2021

Have you heard the news? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced today that they are returning to the UK to live a “normal life” in Croydon.

In other news (and I wish I could show you the video) South Australian police today announced that sausage dogs were joining their dog squad with Sgt Simon Rosenhahn telling bemused viewers,  “We’re … going to be able to attach them to drones and that’s really a game-changer for us. They can be tactically deployed from that – you know, dropped down into people’s yards.”

Yes, of course… it’s April 1st and these are just some of the headlines hitting our news this very day. I wonder if you remember past years’ delights? When back in 1980, the BBC announced that Big Ben was going digital and whoever got in touch first could win the clock hands as a prize. Or when eight years later Burger King reeled in customers for its ‘left-handed Whopper’ – with all the condiments rotated 180 degrees especially for left-handed diners?

Some say the day was initially inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. In the ‘Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ of 1392, the poet describes how the vain rooster Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox, 32 days since the beginning of March, or April 1st. But the first actual recorded ‘April Fool’s prank’ was on April 1, 1698, when several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the lions washed”!

And although the Bible doesn’t mention April 1st, St Paul famously wrote this in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Hasn’t God demonstrated that the wisdom of this world system is utter foolishness?

For in his wisdom, God designed that all the world’s wisdom would be insufficient to lead people to the discovery of himself. He took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross in order to save those who believe it. For the Jews constantly demand to see miraculous signs, while those who are not Jews constantly cling to the world’s wisdom, but we preach the crucified Messiah. The Jews stumble over him and the rest of the world sees him as foolishness. But for those who have been chosen to follow him, both Jews and Greeks, he is God’s mighty power, God’s true wisdom, and our Messiah. For the “foolish” things of God have proven to be wiser than human wisdom. And the “feeble” things of God have proven to be far more powerful than any human ability

Without doubt, for those of no faith, the idea that we believe in a human being who was also divine; sent to speak God’s truth; was betrayed, and executed, carrying the global weight of humanity’s sin on the cross; only to conquer death and rise three days later – might seem somewhat unlikely?

For others, it’s entirely foolish to put hope and trust in an implausible event that took place 2000 years. And yet, for those of us who do put our faith in this God-man Jesus, who have truly experienced God’s transforming love and grace first hand – we accept this “foolishness” readily with open hearts and minds.

And that’s the point!…Today is Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command,” and refers to Jesus’ commandment at the last supper to the disciples, to “Love one another as I have loved you.” Today is the day we remember Jesus, the King of Kings, bending low as a servant to wash His disciples feet. We remember His breaking of bread and sharing of wine – the meal that we are invited into to commemorate his willingness to be broken, so that we who are broken can be made whole again in Him. The perfect, blameless Son of God, willingly giving himself up for the arrogant, the angry, the jealous, the hateful, the deceitful, the proud, the selfish… for me, for you… It does seem rather foolish – in fact insane, nonsensical, implausible, inconceivable… and that is the wonder, and the glory of the cross.

I love Michael Cards song, “God’s Own Fool”. It begins with these lines:

Seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind
But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to men
He must have seemed out of His mind.

The chorus continues:

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
When we in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong

Maundy Thursday then, along with the whole narrative of Holy Week, is an invitation. It’s an invitation to come and break bread with God, to share in His sufferings, to witness His torment in the garden and His resolution to yield and obey the will of the Father, to offer no defence but to set His face like flint. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb 12:2). It’s an invitation to journey with Him to Calvary and to witness His bearing our sins, our brokenness in His body on the cross. “For by His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53). It’s an invitation to journey to His tomb, to weep and marvel at His sacrifice but finally to behold and rejoice at a stone rolled away and testify to an encounter with Him, ‘The Author of Life’ whom no grave could handle!

Death then itself is mocked by Jesus’ resurrection, and the last laugh is God’s! As Michael Card, beautifully sings and invites us,

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you’ll feel the weight of the beam

So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see

And so we follow God’s own fool
For only the foolish can tell-
Believe the unbelievable
And come be a fool as well

April Fools’ Day comes but once a year. But Easter Day is every day. May you have a wonderful Easter, filled with resurrection hope and power.

Alleluia – Christ is risen – he is risen indeed – Alleluia!

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