You Weren’t Expecting That!
Linking April Fools’ Day and Easter Sunday
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider that there is hope after pain and disappointment (SEAL theme: Motivation).
Preparation and materials
- None required.
- Phew, what a relief! (Pause.) I’m so glad that April Fools’ Day happened on a Sunday, and during the Easter holidays. It meant that I wasn’t looking over my shoulder to check whether any of you had prepared a trick for me. Although . . . (you may wish to relate a trick that was actually played on you by family and friends).
How about you? Were any of you the victim of a clever April Fools’ joke? Or did you manage to fool someone else yourself?
Listen to a range of responses.
- But Sunday 1 April wasn’t only April Fools’ Day; it was also Easter Sunday. In fact, the two days fit together rather well because they both contain the element of surprise.
A good April Fools’ trick depends on catching your victims unawares. They must have no idea what’s about to happen. What’s funny is the look of shock, horror and surprise on their face. That’s why it’s no good repeating a trick or recounting the story hours later. It’s the immediate reaction that matters.
- I’d love to have seen the looks on the faces of Jesus’ followers on that first Easter Sunday morning. These were men and women who were grieving. Two days earlier, they’d witnessed the most important person they’d ever met being executed in a brutal and lingering manner, and then buried in a cave tomb. They were deeply depressed. They seemed to have no future. However, on the third day - what we call Easter Sunday - some of them discover that the tomb is empty. Mary, one of the women, even meets Jesus, who has come back to life after being dead, although she doesn’t immediately recognize him.
The Bible relates that initially, there is fear and confusion as the story of Jesus’ resurrection spreads like wildfire among his followers. They don’t understand what has happened. The impossible has taken place. Then, as the reality of the situation takes hold and as they each meet Jesus in the flesh, any doubt is removed. They are left with an overwhelming sense of joy, optimism and hope.
In the Bible story, surprise follows surprise. It’s the greatest April Fools’ trick of them all. Except that, Christians believe, it is no trick. This is the real thing. Christians believe that Jesus overcame the greatest fear of humankind: death itself. Nothing can hold him back.
Time for reflection
Life is full of surprises. Sometimes, they’re welcome ones: meeting a friend you thought you’d lost touch with, a surprise gift, sunshine on a rainy day, winning a raffle prize or finding the solution to a problem. Often, however, they can be unpleasant surprises: bad news, a surprising failure, a last-minute change of plan or being let down by someone you trust. I’m sure you can provide your own examples.
So, how do you cope with such unpleasant surprises? Initially, I guess that common reactions are to sink into depression or react in anger, to freeze dumbstruck or to flap around in confused activity, just like the followers of Jesus. The Easter story encourages us to consider that there may be another way.
Christians believe that the Easter story is concerned with the tension between good and evil in the world. Evil displays itself in many ways: the finality of death, illness, hatred, violence, selfishness, prejudice - everything, in fact, that causes pain, sadness and harm. It’s part of human experience. We all recognize its effects. We all share some responsibility in causing it. Christians believe that God, by allowing his son, Jesus, to suffer and die, tackled the evil in the world head-on. Then, by bringing Jesus back to life on that first Easter Sunday, God showed that evil had been defeated.
Let’s get back to our own experiences. What might be going wrong for us right now? It might be something fairly minor, an inconvenience or a short-term setback. It might be something more serious, such as someone close to us being ill, or a vital relationship breakdown. It might be that we feel responsible for the hurt caused to someone else and are filled with guilt and regret. It might be that we feel angry and depressed about the injustice in the world and are frustrated that we can’t do anything about it. Christians believe that, because of the surprise of Easter, we can do something. They believe that we can tell God about it and ask him to help us.
Does this surprise you? That’s the point I was making about the link between April Fools’ Day and Easter Sunday. Who knows what surprises might be in store?
Thank you that you are always with us.
Thank you for the great surprise of Easter.
Thank you that you are alive!
‘Lifted’ by Lighthouse Family