Disney produced the most awesome float for the 2016 Rose Parade, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Disneyland in Anaheim, their first theme park. Actually, the massive moving display was three float bodies attached by bridges of children. The first section featured characters and images from “Frozen,” Disney’s 2013 hit movie, with a strikingly beautiful blond as the magical Snow Queen. The second section was all about nostalgia; gathered round the “Magic Kingdom” castle were Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy. The third section was totally dedicated to “Star Wars Land,” the new area which will be under construction beginning next Monday.
How do I know this was the best float in the Parade? I asked a group of kids, ranging in age from 7 to 10. The conversation included these comments: “When I saw Frozen up front, I was disappointed.” “Yeah, I booed.” “You’re right; Frozen is so last-year!” “When I saw the Star Wars characters at the end, I said, ‘Yes!’ That’s what I’m looking for.'” “I can’t wait for them to build it.”
Frozen is “so last-year”? I couldn’t believe this new breed of Valley Girl. These kids had moved so quickly from one fantasy to another that it made my head spin. They skipped right past the fantasies from my childhood; they didn’t even seem to hear the pathetic squeaking of Minnie and Mickey; not worth a mention. If Frozen was last-year, the Mouse folk were last-century (which they literally are).
Fantasy is what it’s all about — childhood (or adult) dreams of what life could be like. Walt Disney said it himself at the dedication of the first Disneyland theme park, July 17, 1961:
“Here is a land of imagination, hopes and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star your dreams do come true.”
Fantasies serve an important purpose. They lift our vision and our spirits so that we don’t feel trapped by the limitations of our hum-drum daily existence. They help us believe in the bigger possibilities for our lives and our potential accomplishments. At their best, they can be prisms through which we can begin to see the Kingdom of God and our place in it.
But the problem is that they are so temporary and ephemeral. How quickly the fantasy that once inspired us becomes “so last-year”!
Jesus is presented in the Bible as our fantasy Savior. He gave his life to save us from our sins, our unfulfilled goals, our dashed dreams. And he offers us salvation as a free gift, purely because he loves us, no strings attached. What a fantasy! If only it could be true.
Well, this Gospel message may sound “so last-year,” quaint and outdated. But a Bible passage tells us the startling truth that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” That is, he’s all three sections of God’s Good News float. Here’s the passage from Hebrews 13:8-14:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings [spiritual fantasies]; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, etc. [the latest religious fantasy fads]. . .
Jesus suffered outside the city gate [earth’s fantasy theme park] in order to sanctify the people by his own sacrifice. Let us then go to him outside the camp [giving up our own personal spiritual fantasies] and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city [no enduring fantasy], but we are looking for the City [God’s eternal reality behind all our fantasies] that is to come.”
– Hebrews 13:8-14 (Disney/Van Alstine Expanded Version)