There is something about this time of year that has always fascinated me. It seems like no matter what we struggled with in December there is a chance that we can be free of it in January. It’s a fresh start. So we make resolutions, and we break them. But here’s one that I hope Jesus followers can make and keep for this year.
For the longest time, holiness was a buzz word in Christian circles. And rightfully so. It is, after all, what God calls us to be; different, strange. But what is disappointing to me is the definitions that “holiness” has taken on. We started to talk like holiness meant withdrawal, to not be engaged with the world. And that’s a shame, especially since we just celebrated Christmas, the time when Jesus showed what it looks like for God to enter into our mess.
And so maybe it’s fortunate that New Years follows so closely to Advent. The time when Jesus enters into our world, In a season where most people are deciding to get in shape, or learn something new… Maybe this could point us toward a better resolution.
Last year about this time, I read Donald Miller’s outstanding book, “A Thousand Miles in a Million Years.” In there he tells the story about this unique family that he knows…they’ve got some outrageous stories from living a remarkable life. But one of my favorite stories came on a New Years’ day many years ago. The family was sitting around bored on the first day of the year, but the father thought that was a poor start to the year. So he asked his kids for suggestions on what they could do and they came up with the novel idea to throw a parade…like you do.
Because if it’s good enough for Macy’s…
And what happened next is historic. They called the neighbors, informed that there was going to be a parade coming down their little Suburban street and they invited them to join them. In fact, the only rule of this parade was that no one could just watch it.
And the people showed up, year after year after year. Today the Parade is an annual tradition complete with balloons and floats, costumes and cars. They are a community celebrating the New.
I remember reading this story last year, thinking this is what Christian engagement should look like. This is at the heart of what it means to be a good neighbor. We celebrate what is good in the world with one another, after all one of the central requirements of the law is that the people of God know how to throw a good party.
It’s a shame that too often what we mean by Christians sharing their faith is a rigid view of evangelism with words. Because part of sharing our faith means sharing our joy and our hope. Not just with words but by putting it on display and letting others join in. These stories are inspiring to me because they reveal what could happen with just a bit more imagination and bit less withdrawal. We could show the world a preview of coming attractions. We could reveal that this time of Christmas and New Year is just a glimpse into what God is promsing for everyone, everywhere.
It’s not just a holiday celebrating a New Year, it’s a promise of A New World.
So get out there, in the name of Jesus.
Throw a Parade.