Saturday, March 31, 2012
April Fool's And Palm Sunday
By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing the LORD's song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! Psalm 137:1-6
I got really fascinated about the collision of April Fool's Day and Palm Sunday this year. My Dad, the sometimes stern Presbyterian Minister and Navy Chaplain adored April Fool's Day, and having a great sense of humor, loved tricking us all, my Mom included. Since I am still recuperating I don't have to preach tomorrow anywhere, but I got to thinking how these things go together, if at all, and what could be said about them. I assumed April Fool's was probably something that originated with the Celts or another group in that part of the world.
When researching April Fool's I found that no one cultural group is really responsible and that very little real evidence as to its origins are clear. What I did learn, and probably should have remembered from seminary, was that when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the new calendar in 1582, changing from the old Julian calendar, things got pretty mixed up. Prior to that time, New Year's Day was celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption, March 25th, but transferred to April 1st because March 25th always fell in Holy Week. Also, during the time of the Julian calendar, New Year's celebrations lasted for 8 days so April 1st was the official New Year's Day. Those who couldn't make the transition in calendars, or who wouldn't came to be called April Fools, or so the legends go.
When the pranks part of the day came in, we are not sure, but early on, people who didn't get with the new calendar were sent on "fool's errands" or wild goose chases. In France, the Day is called April Fish, and children slap pictures of fish on unsuspecting other children. Famous media hoaxes have been known to happen on April Fool's Day, and many people fondly remember Dave Garroway reporting on the Spaghetti harvest.
What touches my heart in the celebration, is the lightheartedness, the playfulness and the childlike behavior we permit ourselves to engage in. We are new again. And for a mother who had her first child on the day following the feast of the Annunciation and in 1978, Easter Day, it gives me great joy to think of all of us starting over, starting anew this time of year. The cold hard ground of January has never felt like New Years' to me. But as the blossoms can't hold back and the air fills with pollen and noisy birds, it does indeed feel like a new year is beginning.
Tomorrow Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, a very somber and reverent week, when we delve deep into the mysteries of life, death, and resurrection. We begin the dance that leads to new life. May we begin this coming week with serious minds and light hearts, knowing that with all the trials and pain that will be rehearsed this week, God is victorious for us, winning new life, a new year and new beginnings for us all.