These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 7, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from Philippians 3:3-14. This message is part of a series based on the wisdom and songs of Mr. Rogers entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” This sermon was based on the song “You’ve Got to Do It”
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
Mr. Rogers once said that “Each day there’s something else to listen to, something new to see and touch, something more to find out. You can learn what things are and how they work. You can ask people to help you, and you’ll discover a lot for yourself.”
The thing that strikes me about Rogers words is that they assume a certain drive to learn and know new things. While I think most children seem to have this innate desire to learn new things, it seems to me that as adults that desire can be quelled. Our desire for knowing turns into a confidence that “at my age, I’ve seen it all” or a confidence, rooted in ignorance (“not knowing”) that believes that I have the truth, the answers, the solutions regardless of what others may seem to say, do, or believe. We (adults) turn in our desire to constantly learn new things and replace it with the fragile assumption that we already know all things (or at least enough to see us through tomorrow). Things are the way we know them.
Said differently: It seems to me that children are much better at considering and striving toward what could be. They don’t allow what they don’t know, haven’t seen, or never conceived to influence what might be. New is always a possibility. And, so a child dipping their fingers into paint for the first time, believes that they will one day paint the Mona Lisa. A child who looks up at the stars believes that they will one day go there.
Children don’t let what they are hinder them from believing in and working toward what could be—no matter how outrageous or impossible we adults may think it to be.
“The kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16), Jesus tell us. The Kingdom of God belongs to those who don’t let their present reality keep them from striving to live into what could be.
Paul tells us that if he had any reason to boast in what he was, it was him… and yet he considers all that rubbish (sewer trash!)…
[It is here that my detailed manuscript ends. From here on, I preached from a memorized outline. I had a very hectic week and Sunday morning. I was unable to finish the manuscript. So, if you want to get the rest of the sermon, you’ll need to listen to it.]
 Mr. Rogers as quoted in the Mister Rogers’ Songbook (New York: Random House, 1970), p.32.