Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith* our ancestors received approval.3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.* (Hebrews 11)
Growing up in Southern California meant one way or another the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena would touch my life. For many years attending the parade with my family was an annual tradition, other years, staking out a space on Colorado Blvd with friends and sleeping on the street overnight. Other years helping build a float, attaching flowers one by one in cold warehouses seasonally converted to float production plants. Still other years, as a possible participant as a cast member on a float or in a marching band and every year knowing personally more than a handful of participants and float designers and builders so that it always felt like a hometown event – albeit a very big hometown event and personal experience.
Preparation for the annual parade begins, literally, the day after the parade. Themes, designs, Grand Marshall selection, flower cultivating, marching band submissions – all plans get underway as the floats are deconstructed and Colorado Blvd returned to normal. Thousands of folks from throughout the country – the world, actually – make this parade happen.
It is old school – an old school tradition that cell phones and tablets and social media and digital broadcasting , politics, and shortened attention spans have yet to hold sway and ruin. And old school in the sense that corporate faith undergirds the entire event – to my way of thinking.
At least that is what came to mind at the first verses of the appointed psalm for today. The Rose Parade is a celebration of life and God’s good work in the world through the hearts and hands of his people. I share with the world watching a moment of the greatness of the Lord and a reminder of his presence in our world, in our lives, in our time.
Psalm 34: 1 I will bless the Lord at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
2 I will glory in the Lord; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; *
let us exalt his Name together.
Every year, since its inception in 1890, the parade kicks off on January 1 at 8:00 AM rain or shine. Only 10 times since has it actually rained on the day of the parade and though this year rain threatened, only cloudy skies loomed at the start. Turned out to be another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Thank you, Jesus!
And every year since its inception in 1890, the parade runs on January 1. Except this year (and 15 others) when January 1 fell on a Sunday. In 1893, the Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena (founders of the Tournament of Roses) made a rule that moved the parade from a Sunday January 1 to a Monday, January 2 because “they did not wish to disturb horses hitched outside Sunday church services.” It became the ‘Never on Sunday’ rule and the phrase has entered the American cultural lexicon. No parade on a Sunday because of church services! Love this!
Throughout the parade today broadcasters were explaining why the parades was today and not on January 1 giving air time to the phrase, ‘church services’ – a reminder to the nation of the kind of country we were – are still? A church attending people who, like the Hebrews written of in today’s epistle, understood ‘the worlds were prepared by the word of God’ – a people, a nation, in relationship with the living God.
No matter how far to the secular side of the scale this country seems to have gone, people of faith must not lose heart or sight of where the Lord is ever present and working in the world. Here’s an assortment of scenes from this morning’s parade – moments where I saw Jesus in the mix…
From the vague suggestion found in the float theme, ‘No Call Too Small’
…to the discrete, absolute “Celebrate Jesus” float by the Lutherans.
Praise Him. Praise the Lord and this day that he has made.