Everybody Loves a Parade
“Everybody loves a parade!” Isn’t that the conventional wisdom? If that’s the case there must be a lot of happy people on the Fourth of July since thousands of parades take place all over the country. From sea to shining sea they’re striking up the marching bands, turning over the ignitions on antique cars and hoping their old uniforms still fit. The local politicians and this year’s Little League champs are in their glory.
Everybody loves a parade! Well, almost everybody. Check out the comments from this gentleman sitting in a lawn chair along the parade route. I asked him if he, like everybody else, “loved a parade”:
“Sure I do. Well, I mean it is pretty hot out and I think I’m getting a sunburn on my bald spot. Is anyone else feeling a bit dehydrated? Ouch! That clown (literally, a clown wearing a red nose, not just an annoying guy) just hit me in the head with a Tootsie Roll. Oh, great. Now that toddler sitting next to me is totally melting down because her Popsicle fell on my left shoe. I hate a parade!”
Let’s face it; ideals don’t always mesh with reality. Most of us love parades, but there are still some aggravating things to deal with like parking and over-stimulated children and diesel fumes. Fourth of July parades are wonderful celebrations of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We rejoice in the ideals that make this country great and we revel in the shroud of national pride. All while eating cotton candy, waving flags and cheering for Uncle Sam walking on stilts.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we have fulfilled all the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence. We can’t put up a giant banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished!” as long as injustice and prejudice still exist in this country. Yet this is precisely why they’re called “ideals” – we continue to aim for them even if we haven’t fully attained them. Until everyone is fully able to participate in the American dream, the Founders’ vision has not yet been completely realized.
None of this diminishes the celebration; it simply puts it into context. Our collective work as a nation is not finished and hopefully our parades inspire us to return to the hard work of implementing our national ideals (after the barbecue, of course). In the same way, we worship God week after week and celebrate the ideals of the Christian faith. We’re not finished products, of course, and the church as a whole remains a human institution in all its fallibility. As individuals we spend our entire lives trying to live into our baptismal vows and as a church we spend our entirely lives trying to model divine realities to the world. This doesn’t diminish the ideal of Jesus’ mission and ministry – it simply puts our role into context. There is more work to be done.
In the meantime, go ahead and fire up the grill, put on your well-worn red, white and blue floppy hat, light those sparklers and enjoy the celebration of this great nation. Everybody loves a parade!