754. Fred Rogers and Repairing Creation

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A little over a week ago I watched the new documentary about Fred Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Have you seen it? I have fond memories of my sons calmly and happily watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on television when they were little, and while I have always been grateful for Fred Rogers, I was ever more so after watching the documentary.

I’ve been thinking since about how Fred Rogers became who he was and what he has to say to us, even us grown-ups, about who we become. From all that was shared in the documentary, two things, in particular, stand out.

The first is that he was a minister with a degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He worked in television before going to seminary and after he graduated from seminary. He knew that being a minister was not limited to standing behind a pulpit, as valuable as that definition of minister is. A man or woman who has prepared to serve God, or intends to serve God whether or not a degree is behind that intention, can do so in a multitude of ways.

The second is what he had to say to all of us, even and especially us grown-ups, about what we do with our lives. In a special television appearance after 9/11, he challenged his listeners to be about something big:

“No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be tikkun olam, repairers of creation. Thank you for whatever you do, wherever you are, to bring joy and life and hope and faith and pardon and love to your neighbor and to yourself.”

Read that phrase again: Repairers of creation.

Today with the strong, and sometimes misguided, emphasis on finding one’s unique vocation or “call” and following only that perceived path, this reminder that each of us is to be about the mending of creation by bringing joy, life, hope, faith, pardon, and love to the world around us no matter our job—in any job, in every job—is so needed.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, maybe you can still catch it in a theater. If not, for about the cost of a hamburger or large latte you can watch it on iTunes or another online service. I do hope you will.

~~~

[photo: taken on a recent autumn walk]

753. Try anyway

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This past Sunday in church, our minister said something that I keep circling back to in my thoughts: "It is hard. We will fail. Try anyway." He wasn't talking about making your first million or running a marathon. He was talking about living righteously, following God through all of life, doing what is yours to do. On the surface, with those first beats of hard and fail, the lines strike as pessimistic. But read it again, this time with a clear and calm emphasis on the last line. Try anyway. Say it like a breath. Inhale; exhale. Say it with your eyes closed, then open them and say it again. Try anyway: an intention, an assurance, a hint. Say it with a smile, a wink.

~~~

[photo: taken of new fake dried flowers that look ever so real]

735. Choosing hope this Lent

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Lent begins next Wednesday, February 10. For your own spiritual practice during this season, please find at the end of this post a link to a free Lenten devotional, Come Back to Jesus, in which I have an entry. The devotional was put together by Chris Gehrz, a professor at nearby Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Writers of the devotional were readers of the book that he and co-author Mark Pattie have recently written, The Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity, published by IVP Academic. I'm happy to say that I had the privilege of writing the entry for the 5th Sunday in Lent, March 18.

Several years ago I attended a seminar taught by Gehrz on the topic of Pietism, a religious movement that emerged in the late 1600s. What I learned that weekend helped me fill in pieces of history to better understand the church denomination that I belong to and was raised in. The Covenant church, which grew out of the Lutheran Church of Sweden during the great "spiritual awakening" of the nineteenth century, was particularly influenced by the Pietism movement, which in turn was influenced by Lutheranism, mysticism and late medieval Catholicism, reformed protestantism, and anabaptism. Pietism has an emphasis on devotional practice, particularly the practice of hope. In fact, hope is the central Pietist virtue. (When I learned that I got a shiver given that my current book-in-progress is on hope.)

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In The Pietist Option, Pattie writes, "This decision to put one's faith in God and so to allow hope in the fulfillment of God's promises to blossom and bear the fruit of love is at the heart of the Pietist option.... A living faith out of which hope springs up, inspiring love, directing life, and reshaping the world."

May you enjoy this Lenten devotional. Here’s the link. Please feel free to share the file if you'd like; it has a Creative Commons non-commercial license. (For those of you who receive this post through email subscription, I'm not sure if the link will be active in your inbox. You may have to click through to the web version.)

I also encourage you to read Chris and Mark's book!

~~~

[Photo: taken of art at a local coffee shop at which I sometimes write.]