Easter Day - Solemn Evensong

  • Preacher

    Dean - The Very Revd Andrew Nunn

  • Readings

    Ezekiel 37.1-14; Luke 24.13-35

Can you believe it! It’s 35 years this June since ‘Blackadder’ first appeared on our TV screens. And who’s the most important character – Queenie, Nursie, Lord Melchett, Flashheart, the eponymous hero himself?

Well, no of course not.  The most important character is Baldrick, whose feast day this is.  For this is April Fool’s Day, a day to celebrate the wisdom of the fool, which our one time parishioner, William Shakespeare, knew well and made the most of.  The fool alongside Lear, Touchstone in ‘As you like it’ with that memorable line

‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’

and so many others, speaking truth to power from beneath a jester’s hat.

The stranger who caught up with the two companions on the road to Emmaus thought they were fools.  He’d asked them what’d been going on and they, amazed at one they saw as a fool – how could he possibly not know what was going on when the city was buzzing with the gossip – took time to explain, as they saw it, just what had been happening.

So they tell this interested stranger all about Jesus and what’d happened and about their deeper hopes for him.  And they come to the end of their narrative and the stranger tells them that they are fools, so slow to believe ‘all that the prophets have declared.’

So on that road as the sun is sinking on the first day of the new creation, the stranger sheds true light on all that’s been going on and just why the Messiah had to suffer – just as the prophets had prophesised.  Their hearts burned within them as he spoke to them, explaining, breaking open the scriptures for them as never before and eventually as they gathered with the stranger at their table at which he became the host, their eyes were opened as they knew him in the breaking of the bread. 

Foolishly, though it was now dark and anything could’ve happened to them, they re-tread their steps and made their way back to the Upper Room where the others were still hiding.  They were ready to look foolish in front of everyone else, real fools, as they told their story.  But a fool stood up before they could speak and said

‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’

The wise know that ‘Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones’ do not reconnect to make a living army.  The wise know that the dead do not walk from their tombs.  The wise are wise and the fools are fools but as Paul would teach the early church

God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

This is the wisdom of Touchstone, the philosophy of the fool and it’s found most powerfully in the cross for, as Paul says,

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The travellers on the road could not begin to imagine that God would work in the way that the prophets had said, that a Suffering Servant would be the sign of God’s saving power.  It’s a route to salvation that lacks wisdom, that lacks power, and to do what those companions wanted, to redeem Israel, it required power not weakness, wisdom not foolishness.

Christians are called upon to witness to the resurrection but Paul says to us that we are to be

‘fools for the sake of Christ.’

And for me that means being the believing community in the midst of a sceptical world, that thinks it is wise and thinks that we are fools.

Well, we are fools, disciples of the God who pulls off the greatest tricks, making waters part so we can walk to freedom, breathing new life into old bones, turning water into wine for the sake of a party, making a few fish and loaves feed five thousand, saving a prostitute from the hands of the self-righteous, giving himself as bread and wine, finding fish where none could be found, stilling storms and walking from a stone cold tomb with the warmth of life and taking us with him. 

I may be a fool, but this is the God I believe in, the God I worship and adore, the God who will transform the cross into a throne of glory, who takes a dead tree and makes it bear life-giving fruit and who can through weakness prove strong.  We are fools on this day of All Fools, but fools for Christ who surprises the world, constantly.