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Pastor Peter in the 4th of July Parade

One curious thing about my old hometown in Montana was how much they loved parades.  Many would say this began as a result of the three-day celebration for the “Home of Champions Rodeo” that has taken place every July 2, 3, & 4 for almost 100 years now.  One highlight of this event is certainly the parade that marches down the main street each of the three days starting at noon, the biggest and longest always happening on July 4. Sometimes over an hour in length, the rodeo parade is epic in scale and the town’s population swells 3 to 5 times in size as spectators come from all over to be a part of the festivities and attend the rodeo that follows.

But the rodeo parades are hardly the only parades to make their way through town on a regular basis.  Every other town event like the Festival of Nations, the Winter Carnival Cardboard Classic, and the Hot-Rod Rally, to name just a few, all host parades to create extra fun.  Aside from building community pride and having a good time, there’s one other thing all these parades have in common… they create a mess.  The biggest mess of all, of course, happens on July 4.  All the spectators, the floats throwing candy and trinkets while shedding poorly fastened decorations, and all those horses – they can create an equally epic mess.

This Sunday, our Lenten journeys become a parade.  On Palm Sunday, at the start of the holiest of weeks, we will begin in celebration.  We will celebrate with all those who have been following Jesus and the citizens of the capitol city who have been hearing of the wonderful things he has been doing.  Palm branches will be waved in the air and cloaks will be scattered on the ground. 

Strange as it may seem, today, I’m wondering about the mess that will be left behind.  The mess of Jesus’ parade includes not only discarded branches now turning brown and muddied coats perhaps no longer wearable, but also heightened suspicions and anxious conspirators scheming to preserve the status quo.  Which leads me to wonder, “what will the mess of our own celebrations be this year?”

Are we prepared to live into the promise of something new?  Or will the coming days only continue to be a prolonging of what has held us captive?  Can we keep our eyes trained on the horizon or will we stay focused on the rubbish gathering at our feet?

God’s promise of new life is so very exciting to contemplate, but first we have to remember that this parade continues to and through only one place.  We don’t get there without going through the cross.  Before our holy week celebration begins, take some time this day to consider how you’re going to respond to the inevitable mess that appears and remains for us to tend to.  And consider too, how God promises to walk with us in this parade just as God promises to help us clean up the mess that remains.

May God’s peace come to you this day.  I’ll see you at the parade.  -Pastor Peter

Let us pray:
We are turning, Lord, to hear you, see you, and know you.  You are merciful and kind, slow to anger, rich in blessings. With every twist and turn, lead our steps back to your grace and your mercy. Lead us in your ways of new life, forgiveness, and re-creation.  We pray in the name of Christ, the one who reveals your love, Amen.