Good morning, Hope!
A few weeks ago, during my Father's Day sermon, I shared a clip from a documentary film about children's television host, Fred Rogers, called
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Documentaries rarely become box office hits, but there wasn't an empty seat, or a dry eye, in the theater when my family and I saw this movie together a couple nights ago. Critics seem to love it, too, giving it an extraordinary 99% fresh rating on
The whole experience was particularly poignant for Sally and me because our oldest son, Jon (who had a strong connection to Mr. Rogers as a young child), along with his very-soon-to-be wife, Liz, are in town for their wedding (tomorrow) and were able to join us.
Jon occasionally gets to make documentaries at his job as a producer ... but I know he dreams of someday having the freedom to make uplifting films like this one, shining a spotlight on the kind of things Mr. Rogers emphasized and lived out; things far too often underestimated; things that have the power to heal our world:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Seems to me this list from Galatians is precisely what our world needs right about now. Maybe that's why this movie is the surprise hit of the summer ... maybe that's also got something to do with why
Vacation Bible School
registrations at Hope are way up this year ... maybe our lost world is growing weary of current state and starting to seek a better way for our kids. I hope so.
Our country is deeply divided. Kindness and manners are a lost art. Kids suffer under intense pressure - from peers to conform and parents to perform - so it's no surprise that anxiety rates are at an all-time high for children (five times worse than fifty years ago).
It's time to change. Time to stop chasing the wind. Time to turn back to God. Time to let kids be kids, and make sure, first and foremost, they know their Creator.
Mister Rogers, a Presbyterian pastor, actually understood his work on television as Christian mission - an outreach to children. His "sermons" (way deeper than initially assumed) to millions of children reminded them of their true worth and invited them to a place where neighbors cared about and loved one another.
Much to the surprise of a cynical world, Mister Rogers became a massive force for good in television, reassuring the fragile souls of vulnerable children in the face of real world fears.
He certainly was a huge positive influence on our son, Jon. And so were you, Hope! Although our Chapel isn't big enough to invite the whole Hope community to Liz & Jon's wedding tomorrow, I wish we could. Growing up at Hope, like any other child who is active in this church, Jon was immersed in the light of God's love, learning from you what it means to be a child of God, and what it means to be the church - imperfect, grace-based, giving and forgiving, loved and loving ... thank you, Hope! When you reflect the light of God's love to the world around you, it always makes for
a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
PS- Pastor Jeremy is a faithful pastor, and gifted communicator, and I'm looking forward to his message
(a classic text!) called
"Where Is God When I Feel Lost?"
Sounds to me like the kind of tough, relevant and important topic Mister Rogers himself would take on ... only I'm pretty sure Pastor Jeremy won't start his sermon with a song while he puts on a fresh sweater and sneakers! Stop by the Hope neighborhood for worship this weekend, and I know you'll be blessed!