Here in Ashland, we have a gigantic Fourth of July Parade. Sarah, Caleb and I went this year, got the sunburns to prove it (Caleb avoided that, luckily) and enjoyed an almost 2 hour parade (well, we left before it was completely over). It was a pretty good small-town parade. It began with an F-15 flyover (which Caleb H-A-T-E-D), had your typical entries of cute kids dancing, some bands and guys on motorcycles. Being in Ashland, we had some LGBT groups, representatives from the Unity church and the Goddess Temple, plenty of hippy/Occupy folks…and then there were the sign-holding Christians.
Yay for them, right?
They held signs about the sins of our nation (we MURDER babies, did you know that?!), signs telling us what to do (TURN TO JESUS / TURN FROM SIN, TURN TO JESUS / STUDY THE BIBLE, REPENT NOW). They handed out tracts…like, legit, old-school tracts. Not even with candy taped on them. Just plain ‘ole tracts. And they walked down Ashland’s Siskiyou Blvd, smiling, and knowing there were doing God’s work.
That, my friends, is why our churches need to be marching in parades. With over 20,000 people present at the parade, I’d say that the vibe of Christianity that people could have walked away with, was a pretty negative, stereotypical one. As a progressive pastor of a moderate/progressive church, I really don’t want to be lumped in with them. So, that just means we need to get out there next year.
And I don’t think it needs to be a huge deal…a super, crazy elaborate float or entry. But, something that simply says, “Hey, we’re here. We’ve involved. We care about this community…and we welcome all, love you and want to support you on your spiritual journey.” Then have some other folks hand out water bottles and you’re good to go. You can thank me later.
I think showing up and getting involved in something as huge as the Fourth of July Parade here in Ashland is a no-brainer if you’re a church that wants to be involved in the community, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we might be able to make that happen next year.
Do any of you participate in your community parades? If so – has it been something that’s gone over well in your churches?