Anywho, the other night, I watched the first episode ever – or at least the first one in the series on Netflix. The episode is called, Mister Rogers talks about Divorce and a Boy in a Wheelchair. Not really the best title for a TV show episode but at least it’s descriptive, and man was I blown away!
First, it’s very evident that he loves his neighborhood and so do his neighbors. In fact, Mr. Rogers ran into a guy who makes battery operated cars (this was back in the late 60’s!) and the guy says something like, “I’m doing this because I love this neighborhood.” Love of neighborhood = I think it’s a quality that we should be known for... not sure but it sounds about right =)
What is it we are doing just because we are so filled with love for our communities? Hmm?
Later in the show a little boy is hiding because he’s upset that his parents might be getting a divorce. The entire neighborhood together goes searching for him until he is found and when they find him they rally around him. They listen, they empathize, and they speak hope over him. Everyone in this neighborhood seemed committed to each other and committed to the common good. It was actually moving. Again, no judging!
Later in the show Mister Rogers runs into a little boy who was born with a health problem that left him wheelchair bound. The little boy shares (this was a real conversation/interview) with Mr. Rogers about his struggle, but how he has found hope in the midst of overwhelming challenge and heartache. Watching Mister Rogers ask this little guy questions and compliment his answers and playfully interact with this kid reminded me of our calling as youth workers, our calling as followers of Jesus. And the little boy was genuinely amazing – you have to watch the episode just to see him! But I haven’t been able to get this episode off of my mind. I long to live like Mister Rogers =)
Today we were walking around a couple of neighborhoods in DC wondering what kind of neighbors we will be in this community, when we get totally moved in. We were praying that God would shine through us in how we interact, listen, speak, and serve. Walking the streets with Mister Rogers on my mind caused me to wonder what the good news will look like to these people. It made me think that in order to find out what that might be, we’ll have to make time to be in relationship with them. And maybe that pinpoints a frustration that I have carried for a number of years. My job seemed to keep me from doing my job. You know?
There’s no time to be salt and light in our cities and communities because we’re so busy keeping the machine called church programs going. I think one of the best qualities Jesus had and still has is being present. After all, his name is Emmanuel – God with us - for goodness sakes.
So, as youth workers, I wonder how we might be present for students, for parents, for neighbors? I wonder if we’ll make time, really carve out time? I’m guessing that we all do really long to live like Mister Rogers. Waking up each morning expectant, ready to allow God to lead us in being his listening ear, his touch, his vision to those around us.
I really love Romans 8 in the Message. It’s about this idea of waking up each day ready to allow God to lead us into an amazing life of love. A life wide open to his leading -which means there’s room in our lives FOR his leading; there is space. And the times might be tough, but if we remember who we are, you know, the dwelling places of God, then maybe we’ll remember why we’re here.
Romans 8:15-16 (MSG)
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.