Happy New Year

This is the pre-recorded Thought for the Day that should have gone out this morning on Radio Ulster. Not sure what time it was broadcast at as the schedules are all over the place with the holidays, but I'm sure you can find it on iplayer under Good Morning Ulster. 
For those who have been around this blog for a while you might recognise part of it as I shamelessly cannibalised an earlier post for it...
Happy New Year! No I haven’t lost the plot. Over 400 years ago, when they changed over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, they moved the New Year from the beginning of April and spring, to the beginning of January. And those who refused to change were treated as fools. They were invited to non-existent parties and other pranks were played on them, and it’s thought that this may be one of the origins of April Fools’ Day.
But actually all around the world, in many different cultures there are light-hearted festivals at this time of year celebrating the change from winter to spring… Hope, in place of despair…
Easter is part of that. In its pagan origins it was a celebration of fun and fecundity summed up in a decorated egg. In the Christianised celebration it is an exploration of the grounds of hope for humanity. Yet in many ways the whole of Holy Week might seem like an exercise in foolishness in the eyes of the world…
It begins with the King of Kings entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey colt… Then within a few days we have that same King, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross...  An exercise in very black humour.
Jesus achieved rare unanimity in his time, bringing together the religious and political authorities in Israel, Romans and Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians… groups who hated each other with a passion… yet they cooperated to get rid of this Galilean rabbi who preached such foolish and dangerous stuff as forgiving one another, loving your enemy and giving up your riches to help the poor…
But no sooner had they killed him and buried him than his foolish followers were saying that he was risen from the dead. Ridiculous… that just doesn’t happen… It must have been the greatest April fool joke ever… Yet thousands claimed to have seen him… and were prepared to die for that claim… total fools…
It’s not the first time I’ve been called a fool because of what I believe… Indeed at least one person described me in such terms following a recent thought for the day… But if that’s the worst I get for trying to follow the teachings of that fool who died on the cross I’ll take that. As one of those who died following him, Paul of Tarsus wrote
the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
So happy new year to all you fools out there…

Shalom

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