3rd Sunday of Lent

It's Mr. Rogers Sunday in the Presbyterian Church (USA)! As we gather for worship this Sunday, we will also listen to his life of faith and hear the ways his ministry called us to be neighbors in the way of Jesus.


 

Introduction of "Exactly As You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers" by Shea Tuttle


There's a whole lot to say about Fred Rogers, who was a man of complexity—even contradiction. He was whimsical yet disciplined, a gentle control freak, deeply passionate yet measured, strange and beloved. . . .


In the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Fred's own son says, "I sometimes wonder myself how he ticked." Even Fred's self-definition is complex. Asked in 1986 who the real Mister Rogers was, he replied, as ever, slowly, thoughtfully: "I'm a composer and a piano player, a writer and a television producer... almost by accident, a performer ... a husband and

a father. And I am a minister." . . .


"It's very theological what we do," Fred said about the program. In truth, Fred could have said that about pretty much any aspect of his life. He was a religious person through and through, extraordinarily thoughtful and intentional, and his faith was constantly present to him. He began every day at 5 a.m. with prayer and Bible study, talked frequently with close friends about matters of faith, and prayed each time he stepped onto the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood set, "Let some word that is heard be thine."


When Fred looked into the lens of the camera and spoke to his "television neighbors," he offered his most core beliefs without ever speaking of God directly. "I'm giving the children myself and whoever I am," he said. . . .

Without using the overt language of faith on the air, Mister Rogers relentlessly preached his gospel: you are loved just the way you are. He testified to this love with conviction despite knowing well that not all children live in a loving home (and he heard from many such children, over the years, who thanked him for representing a reality beyond their nightmarish households). He could preach love—and do it with such contagious conviction- because the message was rooted in something deeper than mere affection or transitory admiration: Fred's own belief in

"a loving mystery at the heart of the universe that yearns to be expressed." Fred worked hard every day to help express that loving mystery, to offer God's abundant love without condition to children, parents, Neighborhood staff, strangers on the street, people who wrote him letters—anyone and everyone who encountered him whether on television or in person. He did not do it perfectly—he was as human as you or me—but he did it extraordinarily.


"You know, when I decided to look for work in television, I couldn't possibly have known how I would be used," Fred said in 1994. "I've simply tried to be open to the possibilities God has made available to me."

 

Upcoming Events

Sunday, 3/20:

9:00 a.m.: Children's Sunday School for Lent

9:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study

9:00 a.m.: Chancel Choir

10:30 a.m.: Worship Service


Monday, 3/21:

11:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study via Zoom


Sunday, 3/27:

9:00 a.m.: Children's Sunday School for Lent

9:00 a.m.: Witness at the Cross Lenten Study

9:00 a.m.: Chancel Choir

10:30 a.m.: Worship Service


 

What I Forgot

by Rev. Sarah Speed


Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree.

No fruit here, just soaking up the sun,

growing roots, turning green,

stretching out my branches until

I can hug the horizon.

Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree,

because she doesn’t produce,

and she’s not exhausted,

and she probably gets eight hours

of sleep at night.

And her branches,

unlike my shoulders,

are not heavy with work—

pulled toward the ground,

threatening to break.

And her trunk,

unlike my spine,

is not fighting to stand tall

while holding it all together.

Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree

because she knows

what I forgot

many years ago.

You are still worthy

even if

you don’t produce.

 


You Are Worthy

by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman | Inspired by Luke 13:1-9


How often does society wish us to feel like we are wasting soil? The whole capitalist system lurches forward, powered by our collective sense of unworthiness and our searching for worth based on what we produce. This parable upends the notion that we are what we produce, and speaks truth: you are worthy. You deserve rest and care simply for existing. What a gift!

In this image, I wanted the fig tree to look unremarkable, surrounded by the hands of the Gardener reaching down to lovingly massage the soil. The sleeves contain patterning of simplified visual references to everything a plant needs to not only survive, but to thrive. Starting close to the roots and moving upward, the patterns include water, air, sunlight, nutrients, and space. The emphasis in this image is on what is happening below the surface, in the depths of the dirt. The roots stretch toward the hands of the Gardener as the specks of dirt seem to also image the stars of the vast universe. Within us, despite what we produce, despite what can be seen at the surface, we contain multitudes. We bear the image of God, and our mere existence makes us worthy of Sabbath and the loving arms of the Gardener reaching out to provide us with everything we need.

On a personal note, the Full to the Brim theme keeps bringing me back to the image of resting while God reaches to embrace us. Lately I’ve spent so much time and energy fighting so hard to get some kind of tangible grasp of God, all the while feeling so empty. I’m realizing that I need to practice surrender, allowing God to find me where I am, and to receive God’s care and love, filling me to the brim so I can then be full to pour out once again.

—Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman