There is a quote from the Mr. Rogers that has gone viral. It’s a quote that reminds us and children that even though scary things happen, there are a lot of people in the world who also do good. Mr. Rogers has always been my hero. His calm, an assuming humility, his commitment to children and the greater good and his ability to join children in their wonder are all qualities I love about him. I also felt like he knew me, like he was talking directly to me, that he really did like me “just as I was.”
Mr Rogers spoke to adults as if they were children and children as if they were adults. He gave them the same amount of respect and knew that essentially we all need the same caring attention. We are all children at heart.
Mr Rogers asked us every week if we would be his neighbor. Jesus admonishes us that the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor. Every week Fred Rogers, Presbyterian minister, preached the great commandment. He preached it over and over again. Have we learned the lesson yet?
Mr. Rogers never stopped affirming people. He was never fake or phony in his affirmation. You knew his words were genuine. He let people know they were special, and he meant it.
Mr. Rogers was a champion for children. He believed they deserved respect, care, love and honesty. He treated all children with dignity. He welcomed them into his home and invited them to explore.
Mr. Rogers understood that children need ritual and stability. He switched from jacket to sweater, from dress shoes to gym shoes, and fed his fish every week, not because he lacked creativity, but because he understood the comfort of routine and predictability. In the same way we know in our worship service the Prayer of Confession follow the Call to Worship. Our rituals tell us we are home.
Mr. Rogers knew we need creativity and imagination. The Land of Make Believe, was always my favorite part of his show. It was the take home message of his sermon. I loved Daniel and King Friday. I loved the permission to go to the Land of Make Believe. I think we need to give ourselves permission to use our imagination and go to the land and ponder and create.
Here is his Benediction. He always blessed us before he walked out the door. Promising us that he would be back with a new idea, or two:
Thank you Mr. Rogers, for being our neighbor. It’s time his congregation of viewers, who heard him as children now adults to go teach what we learned from him. We are the caring people who can do the work for the world.
Close your eyes… who has made a difference in your life? Go tell them thank you and be that person for someone else.
Will you be my neighbor?