The crowd cheered when Imperial Stormtroopers arrived marching in perfect Pasadena lock-step.
Darth Vader waved his black-gloved hand in Princess Di fashion while walking jauntily behind hyper, furry critters mounted atop the rolling Ewok village. But the biggest surprise came when we saw Chewbacca get kicked out of the Tournament of Roses parade…
It was a last minute decision made at 7pm the night before: let’s go to the world-famous Rose Parade using L.A.’s public transit system, the Metrorail. With two daughters in tow I met my friend Ray Ribar at 5:30 am at the Greenline station in Redondo Beach, while my wife wisely decided to stay behind and get some rest. We headed out with thousands of Gospel tracts stuffed in a backpack, anxiously anticipating the thrill of viewing this spectacle from the side of a chilly street, instead of in the warmth and comfort of our own homes. But it was a sacrifice well worth making. Why? Hundreds of thousands of pagans hung-over from partying all night, would eagerly grasp at the literature that told of a future judgment for all who broke God’s law… and also the promise of eternal life for all who would trust in the Savior—all written on the back of a phony million-dollar bill! We were not disappointed.
On the train we handed them out!
We gave them to the crowds backed up ten deep at the Porta-Potties (I hope they didn’t think this was some new, cool, toilet paper put out by the Federal Reserve).
We even gave one to the requisite Bush protestor handing out his anti-war propaganda.
“We need to find a solution to bring peace to the world,” he earnestly pleaded. I agreed. “We’ve got to get Bush out!” he concluded.
“Wait! I know how to bring about world peace,” I said excitedly pushing a million-dollar bill into his hand. “When Jesus returns!” With a look of disgust he pushed the bill right back into my hands. I tried to engage him in a worthwhile dialogue, but he turned away. I was forced to do the unthinkable: give him a 17 second sermon. “I just want to let you know that if you’ve ever lied one time, or stolen one thing, then God sees you as a lying thief, and if found guilty on Judgment Day of breaking any of His commandments, then you will end up in Hell to pay for your sin. But if you repent, and trust in Jesus, He will forgive you of every sin you ever committed and grant you everlasting life goodbye! (Go ahead, time it yourself…17 seconds.) I think he scowled.
I sent my kids into the masses! The parade-partiers clamored and hollared for More millions! More millions! completely unaware that they would be reading a message that showed them how serious God is about sin and lawlessness.
It got so completely ridiculous—the crowd so eagerly wanting these bills—that I couldn’t get them out fast enough! I took stacks of bills and tossed them into the poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free…from sin, apparently, (or they just wanted a nice novelty item).
My daughters worked the crowd hard, while our friend Ray handed them out hand-over-fist across the street. I took stacks and handed them to Moms, Dads, lil’ chil’n… and asked specially selected volunteers to take one and pass ’em on down! And they would!!! I sneekily put one on a sleeping fellow as the watching crowd chuckled!
We finally staked out a place to watch the parade, in the second row next to a greasy BBQ smoker. Here come the floats!!!
There were little “marshalls” on minibikes, dressed in white with red ties; they served as mobile security should anything go wrong or get out of hand—like the wookie!
It was innocent enough. About a hundred marching bands had passed by along with all the oooooo and ahhhhhh floats advertising big sponsorship insignias on the sides. “It’s all about branding!” someone whispered cynically to my daughters. Ahem. It was me, I admit it. Thirteen floats passed by celebrating Oklahoma (the state, not the musical). The USC marching band…
I tried to get them to break formation by offering a million dollar bill to them… no takers. The Marine band wouldn’t even meet my gaze, even though I waved the bills furiously. The Michigan State band ignored me too. But I hit paydirt when the Mexican National Marching Band came by. I waved those million-dollar bill Gospel tracts so invitingly, that one by one, those south of the border cymbalists, flutists, and drummers broke formation, ran over to my side of the street and grabbed those bills like they were going out of style (which they had… I have the old kind of million-dollar Gospel tracts, y’know, the not-so-shiny ones). I felt kind of bad, then remembered the message of redemption on the back.
A hushed sense of awe fell over the crowd. A whispering, a murmering… “Here comes the Star Wars marchers!!!” And the Grand Marshall, George Lucas, was right behind them!
Old Darth could use a million, y’think?
“There’s Chewbacca!” Indeed it was. Right here! I could touch him! Struttin’ right along like he owned the parade. Suddenly a little motor bike with a cherubic Marshall pulled alongside of the hairy beast and yelled, “Get out of the parade!”
The wookie scooted, chased by the cherub. He hopped over the crowd and pulled off his head! An imposter! An imposter! I laughed so darn hard. How long was this guy walking along the parade anyway? What guts! I gave him a million as a reward.
“George Lucas!There’s George Lucas!” someone yelled. I ran to get his picture. I huffed and puffed. Argh! Sun’s in the way. Now! I took the shot. He looked at me rather concerned, like I was a stalker or something. Whooo-hooo! I got a picture of George Lucas! I took the camera back to Ray and my girls, set the camera on view…and… and… no picture.
The parade ends. Everyone packs up to leave. Ray shares a Gospel tract with some sheriffs who refuse to take them, thinking they’re some kind of righteous bribe.
I personally witness to some wanna-be gang-bangers…
…and even give a few dollars and the Gospel to a guy who needed money for diapers for his baby. Altogether, we’ve handed out over 5,000 Gospel tracts, in just a few short hours to people who don’t even know their right hand from their left… still I’m not at ease… something’s not right; there’s a bit of a let-down, an anti-climactic feeling. And I finally realize what it is…
I didn’t get the picture of George Lucas.