Project Description

Advent 2A Isaiah 11:1-10 / Romans 15:4-9 / Matthew 3:1-12

 

To start out, I want us to take 60 seconds—

Just 60 seconds to call to mind

somebody in your life that just

the very thought of

makes you feel better.

 

60 seconds—

to call to mind

somebody in your life that just

the very thought of

makes you feel better.

 

What a wonderful 60 seconds!!!!

 

And now for a good story.

 

“Fat Freddy” is what some of

his grade school classmates called him.

 

And it hurt.

 

Freddie was a sensitive 8-year-old kid.

 

He was chubby.

He was shy.

 

He liked to play with puppets.

He liked to play the piano.

He was more comfortable with adults than with kids.

 

So, he didn’t really fit in with

children his own age.

 

“Fat Freddie” missed a lot of school

because he was such a sickly kid.

 

And Freddie’s parents were rich—

they were real rich—

and very over-protective.

Every school day a chauffer

drove Freddie to school.

 

Every school day a chauffer

would come and pick

Freddie up and take him home for lunch. . .

 

and then drive him back to school after lunch.

 

At the end of every school day a chauffeur

would pick Freddie up from school.

 

So you can imagine what a target

“Fat Freddie” was for bullies.

 

One afternoon, the teacher dismissed class early—

so there was no chauffer to pick him up—

and Freddie decided to walk home.

 

It wasn’t that long of a walk—

10 blocks—

and Freddie knew the streets well.

 

He passed First Presbyterian Church—

that’s where Freddie went to church every Sunday.

 

He reached Main Street . . . .

 

and looked both ways before

crossing the busiest street in town.

 

And then, as he was heading toward

the street where he lived—

he sensed he was being followed. . . .

 

and he was.

 

A whole group of boys—

some of the bullies in his class were

on his tail and closing fast.

 

Freddie started walking faster—

but they kept getting closer.

 

 

They started threatening him, hollering:

“Freddie, hey Fat Freddy,

We’re going to get you!”

 

Freddie felt that familiar shame—

and that familiar fear swell up in his stomach.

 

When these situations came up,

he would try to recall what his grandparents told him:

“Just act like you don’t care,

and nobody will bother you.”

 

But Freddie did care—

being called “Fat Freddie” hurt him deeply.

 

As the boys kept getting closer—

Freddie’s heart started racing and

he started running as fast as he could.

 

His house seemed like it was a million blocks away.

 

But Freddie remembered that a

friend of the family

lived just a few yards away.

 

So he made up on the widow’s porch—

Out of breathe—

he knocked on the door.

 

Thanks be to God

she was home.

 

He was still ashamed—

but at least he was safe.

 

Freddie eventually grew out of

his fatness and some of his shyness.

 

Who was “Fat Freddie?”

 

“Fat Freddie” was none other

than Fred Rogers—

Mr. Rogers—

of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

 

That TV show—

even on PBS—

reached an amazing 10% of American households—

5 to 10 million children a day

got to spend some time with Mr. Rogers.

 

Mr. Rogers thought about those

bullies the rest of his life.

 

He said, “I resented the teasing,

I resented the pain.

I resented those kids for not

seeing beyond my fatness and my shyness.”

 

Now we can see why one of Mr. Roger’s

most famous sayings was

“I like you exactly as you are.”

 

That’s what his grandfather had told

him when he was a small child:

“Freddie, I like you exactly as you are.”

 

Every child, Mr. Rogers believed,

needed assurance that he or she

was someone who mattered—

that they were loved.

 

And whether we admit it or not—

we adults need that too—

don’t we.

 

Don’t we crave knowing

that we are someone who matters—

that we are loved.

 

Did anyone see the Mr. Roger’s movie

that’s out now with Tom Hanks playing Mr. Rogers—

A Beautiful Name in the Neighborhood?

 

It’s phenomenal.

 

In the showing I saw,

the audience was dead silent during the whole movie—

except for laughing at the appropriate times.

 

There was a collective thought that

rose from everyone’s consciousness—

everyone was thinking the same thing.

 

Something has gone terribly wrong.

 

We have lost our way.

 

We need this movie.

 

We need Mr. Rogers.

 

I need Mr. Rogers.

 

From it slow pace—

To his slow speech—

To his kindness—

And gentleness—

And patience.

 

We’re just not used to that anymore.

 

When Fed was a senior in college

his parents bought a television set—

the first television set in town.

 

As the family was flipping through the channels,

they came across a children’s program.

 

Fred was planning to go straight

from college to the seminary—

but what he saw on the television that day

changed his plans—

seminary would have to wait.

 

Mr. Roger’s recalls

“I got into television because I

saw people throwing pies at

each other’s faces and that,

to me, was such demeaning behavior.”

 

“And if there’s anything that bothers me,

it’s one person demeaning another.

That really makes me mad.”

 

“What we see and hear on the screen

is part of who we become.”

 

“What we see and hear on the screen

is part of who we become.”

 

Television had such potential—

Mr. Rogers said, “I thought this, [television]

could be such a wonderful tool for education.

Why is it being used [demean People]?

 

You know, Mr. Roger’s was an

ordained Presbyterian minister.

 

He eventually did go to the seminary.

 

And wow—

did Mr. Rogers ever preach the Gospel!!!

 

Every time Fred Rogers stepped

onto the Mr. Roger’s set he would pray:

“Let some word that is heard be your word, Lord.”

 

Mr. Roger’s knew exactly what he was doing.

 

He said:

“When I say what we do through

Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood is theological,

I’m referring to the Incarnation.”

 

“The incarnation means that [humanity]

is not isolated.”

 

“There is Someone who cares and understands”

 

Yes!!!

 

Yes, that’s it!!!

 

“The incarnation means that [humanity]

is not isolated.

There is Someone who cares and understands”

 

 

 

God becomes human and enters into our world—

God enters into our chaos—

God enters into our hopes and our dreams—

God enters into our wounds and our fears—

God enters into our successes—

And our failures.

 

God participates.

 

Jesus cares—

Jesus heals—

Jesus guides—

Jesus leads—

Jesus corrects—

Jesus loves—

And Jesus wants to save everyone—

Everyone.

 

Everyone matters!!!

I matter—

You matter—

We matter to God.

 

This Advent as we celebrate the fact that Jesus came—

That Jesus continues to come—

And that Jesus will come again. . .

 

Let us never forget that what Mr. Rogers said,

“I like you as you are,

let us grow together from there”—

that’s the full quote

 

“I like you as you are,

let us grow together from there”

sums up so much the teaching of Jesus.

 

And we his followers—

Let us be a voice crying out in the wilderness:

 

“The incarnation means that [humanity]

is not isolated.”

There is Someone who cares and understands”

 

Holy Spirit 12/07-08/2019