Peace Parade

Mar 27, 2018

by Rick Admiraal, PCA Board Member, pastor at New Life Prison Community in, Newton, Iowa

I love a parade!  In fact, who doesn't love a parade?  Parades are great.  You can sit curbside in your lawn chairs watching the parade of high school marching bands and fantastic floats file forward.  While your ears soak up the sounds, your eyes can gaze at the colorful spectacle right in front of you on your hometown streets.  President Trump must love a parade too because he's proposing a military parade on the streets of Washington, D.C.  As commander-in-chief, his desire is to preside proudly over a grand display of military vehicles and weapons of war.  Aside from the financial cost, many people (myself included) disagree with the concept of a military parade.  It's admirable to honor our veterans who make tremendous sacrifices to protect and serve our country.  However, a parade highlighting tanks and torpedoes smacks of militarism, serving only to stroke our enormous national ego. 

In contrast, Jesus' Palm Sunday parade didn't cost a denarius as far as we know.   It was a low budget (no budget) activity.  The Bible doesn't speak of any rental fee for the donkey.  The Gospels don't give any information on vendors selling palm branches to the adoring crowds.  Unlike the proposed military parade, Jesus' parade painted a picture of peace.  Jesus came in humility riding on the back of a donkey instead of a warhorse.  Jesus entered the city gates of Jerusalem, literally 'The Foundation of Peace,' to bring a message of peace.  The prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of both major and minor prophets.  Jesus came to bring about the transformation of weaponry into tools used in the grove or garden.  Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

(Isaiah 2:4 NIV)  Jesus came to promote peace not only through his words but also through his actions which often spoke louder than words.  Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.”  (Zechariah 9:9-10 NIV)

In our prison congregations, we also proclaim peace as the Holy Spirit does his transforming work on incarcerated men and women.  At New Life Prison Community, we have our own peace parade whenever we schedule worship services.  We march through prison gates with up to 20 volunteers pulling wheeled carts with A/V equipment, drums, guitars and a keyboard.  After we set up in the prison gym, we welcome a second peace parade of men streaming in from their housing units to take their seats.  As we prepare for worship, we lift our voices to sing our loud Hosannas to the King.  Right before our eyes, we witness God actively changing people from violent offenders to persons promoting peace.  Jesus often spoke powerful words of transformation: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  (Matthew 5:9 NIV)  Led by our Prince of Peace, the Palm Sunday parade is clearly superior to any ill-conceived military parade.  So go in peace to love and serve the Lord!

Category: Peace

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