He said to him,” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ Matthew 22:37-39
Recently I viewed the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”* at the Lincoln Grand Theater. It brought back memories of when our youngest daughter and I watched Mister Rogers Neighborhood. We viewed it on PBS, when it first aired, beginning February 19, 1968. Our daughter, about 18 months old, decided she no longer needed a nap. As I held her, we relaxed and watched Mister Rogers instead of taking a nap.
With quiet simplicity and gentleness, Mister Rogers taught us how to be neighbors. As an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, Mister Rogers’ love of children led to his unique ministry. As stated in a Lincoln Journal Star review, “Fred Rogers made it his mission to teach children kindness, tolerance, love for others and love of oneself.” Puppets communicated difficult messages such as death and divorce. Mr. Rogers’ messages show empathy and acceptance for all ages – not just children.
A Lincoln Journal Star article tells of a Lincoln church pastor who explained Holy Communion’s sacrament’s significance. The communion servers said “you are special” as they picked up the bread and “just as you are” as they dipped it into a chalice of white grape juice. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood inspired their words.
In today’s world, there are many who need us to respond even when their question, ”Won’t you be my neighbor?” is unspoken. We can choose to avoid these persons or risk getting involved. Our neighbors may live next door or in a far-off location. Whose neighbor will we be?
*The documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will be available on DVD on September 4, 2018.
Prayer: Dear God, we seek your daily guidance to determine whose neighbor we will be. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.