I watched multiple parades yesterday. I was struck by the pageantry, patience of the crowd, and what happens later when one million people celebrate together where I was standing earlier in the day. I could feel the energy and power that comes with that many people focusing on one thing. The anthem sung felt heartfelt and amazingly strong. Was this the definitive statement of our attention and intention?
Yes and no.
A parade is a performance. It can reflect yet in the end it is not real living, it is just a parade. With many words it is a loving expression of affection combined with one-time theatre. It says some things but is it just pretend?
Our dialogue with God is like that with a simple twist. God has seen all the theatre he wants to with human actors and actresses. The harsh reality is that “clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean for more to God than religious performance.” (Proverbs 21.3) The simple rationale follows that real living is a stronger statement of the heart than a romantic meal with flowerily words.
We have the opportunity to make a difference in this world. We can reach out to those that are hurting and in need. We can model ethics and moral action in an age when people doubt they still exist. We can play to win instead of playing to exploit. These are real choices that impact people we touch as well as our self.
It does not have to be either or though. Yesterday confirmed that to me.
The parade was simple. Celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee; nothing more and nothing less. Problems of yesterday were not forgotten or glossed over; they just were not part of the agenda. Conflicts of today were put aside because the participants shared a common purpose.
When one lives and performs the only statement I can make is “wow.” One million people sang a hymn united in a common purpose of saying two simple words; “thank-you”. God gives us the same opportunity; “wow”.