In the midst of the holiday festivities, I’ve been hearing a lot about the new movie about Fred Rogers – Mister Rogers of PBS children’s television. I’ve yet to find a person who had a bad thing to say about the movie – or about Mister Rogers. He was one of those rare people who was always just himself, whether he was interacting with a child on his show, giving voice to Daniel Striped Tiger, or testifying in a Congressional hearing.
I’ve been thinking about him and trying to pin down what made him so special. His authenticity, of course, and much more. When he asked questions, he always listened carefully to the answers, then let the speaker know he’d heard them. Often that led to another question. Even when he talked about topics that seemed taboo, he was appropriately direct and strove to make everyone comfortable. He offered kindness and compassion to all.
Chris Raskind and I have talked about creating a “Mister Rogers” service for some time, and we may do that in the New Year! In the meantime, you might check out one of the books the Christian Affinity Group has chosen to read: The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, by Amy Hollingsworth. Fred Rogers was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, with a special ministry to children. While he never made a big deal out of his faith publicly, it informed every aspect of his life. He embodied the saying often attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
As we move through these hectic days, anticipating (or dreading) family get togethers, there are few better examples than Fred Rogers.
Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, Please come celebrate with us! This coming Sunday David Hudson will offer a service called “Wrestling with Spirit.” On Dec. 22, I’m back in the pulpit with “Watch for the Light;” and we especially encourage you to attend our Christmas Eve lessons & carols service on Dec. 24th at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Lori Hlaban