My family and I went to church on Sunday. That’s not uncommon and I didn’t write just to tell you that. But it is important to the story, so I began there.
On the way there, my wife and I were talking about the fact that it was Palm Sunday and what that means and the historical and theological significance of this fact. (The conversation wasn’t anywhere near as high-brow as that last sentence made it seem to be honest with you, but we were talking about Palm Sunday.) Meanwhile, my 7 year old daughter was trying her best to play “tricks” on us because it was April Fool’s Day. Her efforts were comical at best, but she kept trying to make us believe that she had seen a robot on a bicycle next to us on the 407 so we would look and she would scream “APRIL FOOL’S” and collapse in maniacal laughter.
The dichotomy of the scenario made me stop and think. Easter is hard to pin down on the calendar each year, but April 1st is consistent. And though according to Google April Fool’s Day didn’t really start until the 1500s, I nonetheless thought back to the actual Palm Sunday and wondered if it must have felt like the first April Fool’s Day to Jesus.
On that Sunday everyone came out and lined the streets with palm fronds and garments of clothing. They sang out Psalms like 118:25 “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” And this is referred to as His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
But it is less than a week later that Jesus is arrested, abused and hung on a cross – and those same people are nowhere to be found. Even Peter disavows Him. Talk about the ultimate April Fool. The people celebrate His coming and then when the heat comes, it’s “just kidding, we don’t really think He is a king…”
I’d judge these historical people en masse except the parallels in my own life are too convicting, so I’ll just move on with this story.
Jesus’ coming and willingness to die on a cross was the ultimate expression of love. He saw the state of our lives (and our souls) and said, “I love them too much to let this remain the same.” He saw our poverty. He saw our shame. He understood our lives had become consumed with arrogance and hedonism and that we lacked compassion and peace. And into that cesspool of humanity He waded. There was no joke, no punch line and no “gotcha” in His actions. He simply loved.
I have no idea if it even happened in the month of April, but I the one thing I am certain of is that we were the fools. We abandoned Him and hung Him on a cross. And still He loved us. Still He loves us.
My deepest desire during this “Holy Week” leading up to Easter Sunday, is that we begin to fully understand the love He showed us. He gave up everything for us. It makes me reflect on my own understanding and my own actions – what have I ever given up for anyone? My prayer for me this week (and going forward) is that I begin to have an answer to that question. And that it is a living answer, continuously growing and expanding.
And since we’re talking about prayer, this seems like a good time to remind everyone that April 11th is World Relief Canada’s Day of Prayer. You might have seen reference to this date in the last mailer you received from us. But in case you didn’t, allow me to explain. Our Day of Prayer is not about how we can pray for the world and those suffering in it – especially those we work with. Don’t get me wrong, we pray for them every day. But this Day of Prayer is about you.
How can we pray for you? Our gift to you – our amazing and generous supporters and friends – is this day of intentional prayer. We are going to pray for you by name, but we want to know how we can do it specifically. How can we pray for you? We are going before the throne room of God to lift you up to Him with love and thankfulness. Is there something specific you would like us to mention? You can write it down on the response device in the mailer, or you can email us, or you can call us. But let us know and you can be certain that you will be prayed for. We will be praying together in agreement here at World Relief Canada. Let us pray for you on April 11th.
Eric Frans, CFRE
Director of Philanthropy