Join the Parade

It was a beautiful, mild, sun-drenched February morning in the South.  I had spoken to a church group on Friday night and left early Saturday morning coming back home.  It was before 9 o’clock in the morning as I was passing through the south Mississippi town when I got into a mess.  I had no idea what I was getting into but soon realized what was taking place.

It was Saturday before Mardi Gras day so in this town they were having a Mardi Gras parade on Saturday morning.  Before I could turn right or left or do anything I was in a line of cars that were being channeled into the parade start area.  That is not where
I wanted to go and not where I
needed to be.  I kept surveying the street and how to get off and where I might turn and get around all this stuff, but police were at intersections along the way directing us to stay in line and move forward.

Some of the folks did pull off into parking areas where they could get out and I assume watch the parade.  I didn’t think I wanted to do that so I inched along thinking I would get through eventually, but then we arrived at a large intersection right at the staging area for the parade.  I was at the front of the line and we all had to stop.  Crossing over in front of me was a Mardi Gras float with 75-100 people dressed in all their finery and having a grand old time.

As you know, the people on the floats are called krewes, and this one came from some part of the town there and called themselves the Krewe of d’Hood.  I assume d’Neighborhood.  They had music blaring from every corner of the float and they were ready for the parade to begin.  I was nothing but a simple, innocent bystander to all that was taking place, but soon, and I mean very soon, I was directed by the policeman to follow the Krewe of d’Hood.  I waved my hands no and was trying to roll the window down to tell him, “I’m not a part of the parade!”  His emphatic gestures indicated, “You are a part of this and you’re going to follow them.”  And I did.

The folks onboard the float were thrilled to see me joining with them.  I waved at them, smiled, and slowly drove behind them as they parted in the pre-parade staging area.  Having lived in south Mississippi and having gone to New Orleans Seminary, I had been to Mardi Gras parades and they are wild and wooly and seem to be fun filled events, but I had never been in a Mardi Gras parade in my life.

But there I was behind the Krewe of d’Hood waving and smiling at people.  Now in the midst of the fun they were having and my forced participation, I was looking for a way out and soon I took a road that led to where I did not know, but it was not going with the rest of the parade and that was fine with me.  For a few short minutes, I was Mr. Somebody riding in the car by himself, waving at folks and celebrating I’m not sure what.  I wound around through the community for a little while and found my
way back and got on the road and headed home.

They always say in New Orleans it doesn’t matter where you are, or what the occasion, a party can break out and a parade will start.  A funeral, a wedding, a graduation or a separation, strike up the band, let the parade begin.  It’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?  So much of the Mardi Gras festivities, while on the appearance outwardly is good times and joyous, raucous laughter, is not altogether that what it may appear.  But as I reflected on my two minutes of Mardi Gras fame I thought about a parade that broke out for Jesus.

It was the beginning of the end.  The last week of His life and Jesus came to Jerusalem.  He was riding on a little donkey and the crowds that were all over the city took note of Him and people began to treat Him as though He was a celebrity, as though He was something special, as though He was something from God, for He was.  “Hosanna in the highest” (Matt. 21:9).  They put down their coats so that He wouldn’t have to ride over the rough, cobbled stones and others broke off palm branches and laid them before Him and the parade continued and the praise was overflowing.  And anyone could come and join the parade to praise Him, to participate in honoring Him, to take off their robe or cloak and put it before Him or break off some palm leaves to place before Him.  And for a while, that moment we called the triumphal entry was an unparalleled parade that within days would end on a cross.  After His death, He was placed in a tomb and three days later, praise God, the parade continued.

But as you stop and think about that parade that broke out, people of Jerusalem and along the way were faced with decisions.  Then and even now, you can decide to join the parade for Jesus or reject being a part of it.  For the folks there and now it is impossible just to ignore the parade.  Jesus who is, one day will be known by everyone as the King of kings and Lord of lords, cannot be ignored.
Sure you can reject him.  You can discuss, analyze, rationalize and justify rejecting Him, but you cannot ignore Him.  He welcomes us with joy to
the parade.

Sometimes it seems like there are folks who are part of what appears to be the followers of Jesus who don’t really want to be there.  They’re sort of like me Saturday morning in a Mardi Gras parade.  They may even be at church, but it is pretty obvious that they’re not participating in the parade.  There’s little involvement.  There’s no expression of joy.  They seem like the police ordered them to turn and follow the Krewe of d’Hood.

While, on the other hand, there are people who hear the song and celebrate the delight and the wonder of the God of heaven welcoming us to join the parade.  I may never again be at and surely will not be in a Mardi Gras parade, but the one for Jesus I’ve enjoyed for a long time, and am confident that I am going to enjoy it for eternity.  Come, join the parade.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer
directions@mbcb.org

3-19-15

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