The April Fool’s in Easter

By Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards

Ash Wednesday coincided with Valentine’s Day in February this year for the first time since 1945. Of course, this meant that Easter would land on April Fool’s Day or, I suppose I could also say, April Fool’s lands this year on Easter.

At first, I could think of nothing that connected April Fool’s — its jokes and hoaxes — with Easter, the most mysterious and holy day in Christian life. But then my favorite image of the Resurrection came to mind.

The Resurrection panel of the Gruenewald Isenheim Altar Piece has always had a comic edge for me. From my introduction to it long ago, Jesus suspended above the coffin suggested to me that there was a trampoline in the dark below, helping Him spring up and float so happily in the air. Now, April Fool’s Day adds to that, Jesus exclaiming to us as He hovers, “April Fool’s!!”

But where is the fooling?

My Christian tradition and my own faith tell me Jesus is speaking of the tomb and the painful death he suffered. That is the hoax.  Jesus’ life after death and for eternity is the truth for Him and for all God’s beloved children. This is the foundation for every hope we have in our hearts as we face all that troubles each of us and all of us every day.

When He shouts out “April Fool’s” Jesus is confirming all the ways we express our Easter hope from “God wins” to “all manner of thing shall be well.”

Skeptics might hear in Jesus’ April Fool’s cry a comment on this claim of resurrection and eternal life. How foolish, they say. For these, the truth is the inevitable pain and suffering of this life. They tend to see life as Thomas Hobbes described it: “nasty, brutish and short.”

I’ll take the hope, joy –fun– I feel at adding this new April Fool’s wrinkle to my sense of Gruenewald’s art and of Jesus’ resurrection. From now on, I’ll think of Jesus emerging from death this way.  I invite you to do so, as well. May it sustain you in life, as it does me.

The Rev. Janet Edwards is a Presbyterian minister and is on the Board of Directors at Auburn. 

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