Editor’s Note: The following first appeared on the blog for Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana. During Mardi Gras weekend, Alexandria is a hub for unbridled joy and the people from Emmanuel can be found in the center of it all.

 It’s no secret that I love a parade. Blame it on my sad Texas roots. But honestly, no one does a parade like Louisiana. 

I remember when Jessica and I were new parents living just west of Houston. Our oldest son was a year old at the time. Jessica and her mom decided that we needed to stage an impromptu Mardi Gras parade, even if no one else in the neighborhood participated.  

So we decorated the little red wagon and pulled our son down the street, instructing him in futility to toss beads along the way. It was far from a rousing success. 

But it’s something we’ll never forget. What I’ll always remember is the stubbornness of the whole endeavor. 

When I think of parades, the phrase that comes to mind for me is “unbridled joy.” There’s something absurd and frivolous about calling out for plastic beads. There’s something inefficient about spending several hours staking out your ground near the rails.  

But we stubbornly insist on the joy of it all. And I think that plays a role in our embodiment of faith. 

I used to believe that the experience of joy was entirely random. It was dictated by circumstances and surrounding situations. But I’m not so sure of that anymore.  

The older I get, the more aware I am that joy is a choice we make. It’s not really so random at all. It is a determined way of seeing the world—and ourselves in it. 

And I’m convinced that joy may just be the single most powerful element of our testimony of faith in Christ. It signals that our lives have been reordered according to something greater. And it is undoubtedly infectious. 

So I hope we stubbornly march in every parade. I hope we call out for all the beads. 

I hope we’re front and center when the world experiences something that speaks of life and goodness and grace. That’s a key part of our role on this side of heaven.  

The first miracle Jesus ever performed was turning water into wine so a wedding party would continue uninterrupted. It sounds to me like he would be leading the parade. I hope we’ll always join him.


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