Rector’s Letter, April 2024

Easter Day this year is 31st March – and knowing our highly efficient distribution team, your April magazine may well drop on your doorstep before Easter Day. It is a day full of hope for Christians, please come and join us!

Easter is a moveable feast. I could try and explain how the date works, but it would probably take 3 pages of the magazine to explain and we would all probably be still none the wiser! But here is an interesting question: if you were competing in “Who wants to be a millionaire”, it would be definitely one of those questions that if answered correctly, would get you a lot of money. The question is, what do the years 2018 and 2029 have in common in relation to Easter? The answer is: on those two years Easter falls on April 1st. April Fools Day. I think quite a good day for Easter – but not for the reasons those of a cynical nature might think.

In my student days there was a monk and theologian called Harry Williams. One of the books he wrote was called “Tensions” – about all the difficulties we face in life. In the last chapter he looks at gifts God has given us to help cope. One of those gifts he suggests is laughter.

His analysis is good. There are different types – one is nasty, laughing at people. In the gospels we quite often read that people laughed at Jesus – “scoffed”, because it was their defence against Jesus trying to open them up to God’s infinite love, which would have involved big changes in their judgemental attitudes.

There is then laughing with people which is very different and life enhancing and brings us closer to people. It can help change how we see something, give us hope. I remember reading a book on resilience in difficult times and the ability to laugh alongside another and with them, was high up the list of helpful attributes.

Harry Williams emphasises something that surprised me. He said the resurrection was laughter in the heart of God and so April Fool’s Day might be thought the appropriate day for Easter Sunday. The world is often a hard place and Good Friday and events leading up to it were certainly hard places for Jesus. On that first Good Friday, you can just imagine all the good people threatened by Jesus and his openness and all-encompassing love and whose scheming had sent him to his death, going to dinner that night thinking “at last we have got rid of him”. And then, on Easter Day he’s back! God having the last laugh. His way of inclusive love having the last word.

And, finally, three quick thoughts about April Fools.

St Paul suggests to us that we are to be fools for Christ.

He also says the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of humans.

And whilst on this subject, in Shakespeare’s great play King Lear, the only one able to speak the truth to Lear was, of course, the Fool.

Happy April Fool’s Day!