Saturday, June 16, 2018

The things which cannot be seen

Martin Sattler photo

2 Corinthians; 4; 16-5:1; We do not lose heart. Our OUTER nature may be wasting away..but our inner nature is being renewed day by day

Again with 2 Corinthians Jesus speaks of the things which cannot be seen. As mentioned in scripture in Romans 8, we spoke not long ago of the hope that cannot be seen. It is this hope that is our saving grace.

And so it goes that with all things in Christ none of our material possessions matter as much as the things which cannot be seen. Faith, hope, love and devotion are those things we cannot touch and are gifts we may give but cannot be bought at any price. The things that are priceless, as they say in commercials, are part of this unseen but vital world that Jesus knew and taught us to aspire to live in and strive towards. Which is why it is important not to lose heart, as the scripture tells us.

The outer world is the temporary vision of the world that Christ taught us about. And the things which cannot be seen are the things that cause us to take heart. Inspiration and perseverance, faith and devotion are the better parts of our nature. We often hear of a parents’ love for their child, of a military soldier fighting to the last breath of their life out of devotion. We hear about love of country and perseverance in the face of great sadness or chaos.

None of these things are qualities that can be boxed and sold. It is all a part of the greater world that is found only in one’s inner nature. That is why we strive, as Christians, in the face at times of long odds or overwhelming obstacles, to become better parents and teachers, workers and siblings, spouses and children, as we are taught by Christ. We fail as humans, and we are forgiven. So we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and we try again. That is the nature of our lives as Christians. We will always strive to find those things deep inside of us, those most valuable parts of our lives which are eternal. These are the things which cannot be seen.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Mr Rogers was a man on a mission

There has been a renaissance surrounding Mr Rogers of late. Tom Hanks is going to play Mr Rogers in the feature film, “You Are My Friend.” The documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” also opens this week. 

Mr Rogers was not only an enduring, and well recognized children’s advocate, but also a man of faith who believed in his message, a rarity in this age of instant celebrity. One remarkable fact is that Rogers made a point of answering the almost 1 million pieces of mail personally that was sent to him. There was much more to Fred Rogers than a simple television personality. Not only was he an ordained Presbyterian Minister, Rogers was also a student of world religions and spoke Greek and Hebrew.

The man who used to ask, “Won’t you be my neighbor?" in each episode really did believe in his mission. He was a believer in being a good neighbor and he pulled from the biblical teachings where Jesus spoke of the type of neighbor that Christians should become. It also speaks to the larger questions in society, and the humanistic beliefs that extol us to look out for one another and care deeply about our neighbors, regardless of skin color or religion or political beliefs. |The widow of Rogers told the documentary makers not to make him ‘into a saint.’ She went on to add that ‘his mission was to tell us that we all struggle, and he doesn’t exist on another plane. He labored incredibly hard to fight for grace.”

Rogers story is even more powerful as we delve into his prescient vision about the power of media and the influence television had on children. According to his documentarian, Rogers envisioned television as a great tool for helping to build community, but he was also appalled by the exploitation he found in children’s programming. In this new in-depth look at Rogers’, his friend, Reverend George Wirth, also explained how Rogers was able to convey the message of Christian values without using the accepted language used in sermons.

We see and hear Rogers dealing with the difficult subjects through his show, and talking to children in voices they could understand. He talked about the Vietnam War on TV, and after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, he used the voice of a puppet to help children understand the tough subject, even going so far as defining the word “assassination.’

Rogers is a needed voice from the past that was able to understand the power of images and media, and how they powerfully affect children and invade the lives of children and adults. And yet he spoke optimistically, before Congress, about television giving us ‘the chance to make a real community out of the entire country’ This is something that has become even more of a remarkable wish rather than a prediction in the age of the internet that consumes us in the 21stCentury.

There are critics of Rogers who talked of the oft-repeated phrase he used, “I like you just the way you are.” Rogers addressed that once in a commencement speech, telling the audience that “What that means ultimately is you don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.” This is something that Christians, and all people of faith may interpret as the idea of God’s grace at work in our lives.

One of the most prescient and forward -thinking points of Rogers’ contribution to not only children’s programming, but to the idea of using media to bring people together, comes from his own words as he tells viewers to ‘think of someone who has helped you.’ If you look for the helpers, you will see they outnumber those who are intent on doing bad things. That is sadly, a much- needed lesson that begs to be relayed time and again in an age of violence in schools and throughout the normally placid areas of our life that have become ‘soft targets’ for those intent on doing harm.

Fred Rogers was a man out of time, whose lessons are still reaching out to help us heal some of the broken places that we see in our own lives. Look for the documentary on PBS, as well as the feature film starring Tom Hanks as they portray this extraordinary, humble and quiet man of faith we knew as Mr Rogers.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Marketing Team Jesus in the 21st Century

Team Jesus

We’ve all heard that sometimes the simplest of messages are the easiest to read and the hardest to follow. Such as the reminder from 2 Corinthians 4:5, that we do not work to proclaim the glory of ourselves, but the glory of Christ and therefore, as his followers, we work for his sake. It’s probably a telling tale that we need to put this in perspective in ways that most of us who live in the 21st Century will understand. We work for Team Jesus, and on that team, we are all working together to promote his message and branding. The message? A simple one: Love others as you would your own family and tribe and protect each of us as we would protect ourselves. The Brand? Team Jesus: I am the way and the truth and the light. We are working for his sake, and working on the brand that is larger than the largest of corporations, and a brand that transcends time. 

It is Team Jesus that we need to remind ourselves again and again that we are working for. We need to learn to love our fellow man, and to trust in the Lord. The simplest of messages are easy to read, and the hardest ones to follow. We need to beware of any one brand or message or ‘tribe’ that we ascribe to. All of those who seem to talk about returning to their own tribe, be it political or religious or corporate, need to realize that the whole of our being is reflected not just in who we follow, but in the message that we are following. Team Jesus transcends the tribal elements of the 21st Century. Love your neighbor with all your heart, and follow the word of the Lord. A simple enough message with a timeless brand.