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Easter Sunday                                                  April 1,2018

Why do we paint Easter eggs? Because it's easier than trying to wallpaper them!

Where does the Easter bunny eat breakfast? At Ihop

Why was the Easter Bunny so upset? He was having a bad hare day!

So, Easter commemorates when Jesus hid eggs for the disciples to find, and then he turned all the rabbits into chocolate, right?

We celebrate Jesus brutally dying on the cross by getting a giant bunny rabbit to hide chocolate eggs….I can't help but feel there is a massive gap in information somewhere.

I'm combining Easter and April Fool's day this year...I'm sending the kids out to look for eggs I haven't hidden.

Ok, enough foolishness.

Back in February when I noticed that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day landed on the same day I knew there was going to be trouble. This sentiment was confirmed when we gathered for worship and it was apparent that more folks had chosen romance over repentance!

And here we are, with another odd calendar combination: April Fool’s Day and Easter Sunday. I suspect for some this might actually seem to be very appropriate, a day dedicated to celebrating the death and foolish talk of a resurrection of a Jewish rabbi 2,000 plus years ago. Perhaps it is. Or, maybe the Apostle Paul was right on track when he wrote: “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

Today, as followers of Christ, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus! As believers in Jesus, we gather to celebrate the empty tomb! God’s triumph over sin and death! We proclaim it as truth told by the angels Shared with the women And offered to all of humanity Today is a day of joy, celebration, and the laughter of eternal life. And, yes, it is also April Fool’s Day – today in which we choose to laugh with God. Yes – the tomb is empty, death destroyed, sin conquered. In short—today is a day where celebrate the foolishness of God. A day where we foolishly trust that life wins and that love wins.

On this Easter morning we have the opportunity to celebrate the day Jesus fooled the Romans with the Resurrection. The Roman Empire thought they were eternal. This is typical of empires, they foolishly hold themselves in such high esteem, demanding unabashed loyalty and lacking any sense of humor! In Jesus day and in the years that followed, saying something foolish like “Jesus is Lord” could get you killed, as it contradicted the sentiment that “Caesar is Lord”. Today such foolish misplaced loyalty will simply get you fired! The Roman Empire decided that God’s eternal plan could be crushed by Jesus’ death on a cross. 2000 years ago in his Palace, it was Caesar who thought he was a god and in charge of the world and that Jesus would be forgotten. Today, Caesar is a salad – and Jesus is still being proclaimed by millions as our living Lord and Savior.

Pontius Pilate thought that washing his hands of Jesus and His death was a good political move. Pontius Pilate was given a tremendous place in history – his cowardice remains a tragic lesson for all in a position of power who are given a moment to choose life or death. Pilate, who meets Jesus face to face, chooses to crucify Him with “King of the Jews” proclaimed above Him on the cross, and yet fails to grasp in Jesus that He is the King of Kings. Pilate today is the world’s most famous spineless politician – every week in the Apostle’s Creed we remember Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again;” To all the proponents of the empire, to all the Caesar’s of the world and all the Pontius Pilates throughout history—Today we proclaim April Fools!

On that Resurrection Day, Jesus fooled the women.The grieving, faithful women came to the tomb expecting to find Jesus body. They came to cover Him with the spices of the burial process. They came hoping to get the Roman guards to give them mercy and find some help to roll away the stone. They were in for the greatest Aprils’ Fool ever. The stone was rolled away The guards were gone. The grave clothes were folded. The tomb was empty. When Mary sees the Risen Lord – she thinks He is the gardener. And then He calls her by name – and there is a moment of shock – perhaps a moment of amazement – and perhaps a moment of great joy. I have often wondered whether Jesus and Mary could laugh and cry together in that deep shared emotion?

But then Jesus does the unexpected--He sent Mary to be the first great messenger of the Resurrection! Of all the potential people to be sent to proclaim the good news of the resurrection, Jesus sends Mary – whom the world had discarded! Throughout scripture and throughout history God has constantly chosen those who the rest of the world might have consider foolish choices. A teenage girl to give birth to the Messiah, a bunch of shepherds to be the first evangelists, and in time a rag tag band of disciples who would form the foundation of the church as we know it.

Even Paul himself, in this day and age we would look upon him as something of an extremist in his ruthless pursuit of Christians – and he eventually becomes the greatest missionary the faith has ever seen. So of all the creditable options, Jesus sends Mary and the Gospel of Luke tells us that “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” (Luke 24:11) Mary full of faith and joy gets to share this great News – and the ones who followed Jesus most closely – the first followers – the great Saints – they couldn’t yet believe it. So, if you are full of doubt today – thinking all of this is foolish nonsense--you are in good company – if my words seem like nonsense – I understand why.

On this Easter Sunday we are reminded of how Jesus fooled the Romans, those who assumed they were the world’s power brokers. We also hear about how Jesus fools the faithful by turning their world upside down.

And if that was not enough Jesus pulls the Ultimate joke on Death itself. Genesis records Death entered into this world through the Great Deceiver. The conversation in the Garden of Eden speaks to humanity’s gullibility and our ability to be so easily fooled – to trade in our faithful obedience for a moment of pleasure – to forget the consequences of turning from God – to belief that we can be in control – and demand our own way. That great trick ruined what God’s intended and still does to this day – and each of us have examples even in our own lives.

That trick that began in the Garden of Eden is undone by an even greater power in the empty Garden Tomb. Evil may think it has won – and there are moments when death seems to be the victor, but then we are reminded of the empty tomb and the Risen Savior has the last laugh. And somehow God implants in our hearts that truth that we shall be made new – in a place where there is no more death, no more tears, and no more pain, - the old order of things will pass away – and all things will be made new!

So what are to make of this April Fools Easter? Without a doubt, the message of the cross and the empty tomb is foolishness. But it is the kind of craziness that saves. Today, the Apostle Paul invites and challenges us to be “Fools for Christ”. Through the foolishness of the cross Jesus has saved us and claimed us as his brothers and sisters. He has given us the Holy Spirit and all this changes us. We are not the same anymore. “We are fools for the sake of Christ.” (1 Cor.4:10)

This means in part that we can join Jesus as he foolishly goes about touching lepers, sharing meals with the most unlikely dinner guests—tax collectors and prostitutes.

This means that as “fools for Christ” we can celebrate this Easter by doing something incredibly foolish—forgiving those who don’t deserve our forgiveness—it also means we can forgive ourselves—even when we can’t hardly believe such foolishness is possible.

This means we can politely smile when the powers and principalities and Caesars of this world demand our allegiance and loyalty at all cost because we know that in the end, Jesus is Lord and that’s all that matters.

This means that while life as we know it can and will continue to play tricks on us, disable us, discourage us and suck life out of us—we trust that God has the last laugh, God has another trick up his sleeve, if you will and that trick involves new life, abundant life unlike the world has ever seen or experienced.

In other words—life wins—love wins when we are fools for Christ. Have a blessed and foolish Easter! Amen

Pastor Stephen Blenkush

Zion Lutheran Church
Milaca MN 56353

Love like Jesus!

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