As an ordained minister, Fred Rogers harnessed the power of television to tell children they were loved — and to show them how to love others. In You Are Special, he writes, “When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong along with the fearful, thetrue mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.”
In a review of the touching documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? a writer for Variety notes: “Rogers’ real secret was … that the call to love your neighbor as yourself isn’t a slogan to hang in your kitchen with flowers around it — it’s a decision you make at every moment, to view every man, woman and child on earth as your neighbor. If you don’t see and feel that, and act on it, then you’re just another narcissist with a kitchen slogan.”
Last October, when a synagogue shooting shattered the peace of Rogers’ real-life former neighborhood, residents of all religions embraced one another as neighbors. Afterward, the Fred Rogers Center stated, “We long for a day when there is no more tragedy born from hatred.”
Stuck on Repeat
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray is doomed to repeat the same day over and over. For Christians, the “sin cycle” is similar: mess up, repent, resolve to do better —and fail yet again, often in the exact same ways.
That movie is really about grace, contends Mark Lockard. “We fail in small ways … and in tragic ways,” he writes on Ministry Matters.com. “Sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to hit repeat and try again the next day, to aim for perfection, to be the saintly Phil Connors we see at movie’s end. But that takes away the spontaneity of the new day, the challenge of being more Christ-like despite a brand new set of circumstances.”
On earth, the “chill” of sin keeps biting, but we can “face the stark winter day wrapped warmly in the knowing that it’s okay to get it wrong, ”Lockard writes. “That’s part of figuring out who we are as a beloved child of God. That’s what grace is all about.”
Known and Loved
“Jesus knows me, this I love,” read the church sign. That twist on the classic children’s song emphasizes the importance of being both loved and known. “It’s not one or the other; it’s hard truth and ridiculous grace,” sings contemporary Christian artist Tauren Wells in “Known.”
Timothy Keller, in The Meaning ofMarriage, describes the duality this way: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Three in One
Everyday objects can serve as simple lessons about biblical truth. To illustrate the profound concept of theTrinity, for example, some teachers use an apple, an egg or a three-leaf clover. During winter, you can point to a kid-friendly snowman to describe how God is Three in One.
The ball of snow on the base represents God the Father, our Creator and strong foundation. The middle ball, with stick arms reaching to the side, reminds us of Jesus, who died on the cross. And the snowman’s head stands for the Holy Spirit, our ever-present Counselor who helps us and speaks God’s truth to us.
“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
“Love is like a tennis match; you’ll never win consistently until you learn to serve well.”
—Dan P. Herod
“In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.”
Articles from Communication Resources NewsletterNewsletter February 2019 edition.