Monday, January 26, 2009

“The Key to Victory, Love”

I am reminded today of a famous statement made to me by one of my basketball coaches. He said, “Remember there is no I in Team.” In which I, in my competitive nature, responded passionately, “There is in WIN! Now get me the ball.” It was not that I held dissatisfaction with my teammates; it was not that I doubted their skills and abilities; it was the simple fact that I had confidence in my own actions. I had no doubt that I could score and win the game. I desperately wanted the ball in my hands. I wanted to control the outcome of the game. At that moment, I did not care about the relationships of my teammates. I wanted, needed, and urgently want to win. Winning is the goal of any competition and the common goal of our team. In my view, the way to victory meant giving me the ball, letting me score, win the game, and then we all celebrate. Losing was just not an option. It was nothing emotional or personal. That may or may not work on the basketball court but it definitely does not work in the church.
In his first letter to the struggling church in Corinth, Paul writes in Chapter 8:1-13, it is love that makes one victorious. It is not the knowledge we have, it is not the ministries we offer, or the way we worship, it is how we love each other and interact with each other that makes us attractive to others. The Corinth church was arguing about eating meat. While they quarreled and complained about the issue, Paul reminded them that others outside the church were watching the way they loved each other. Here at FCC, we have a unique gift to share with others in our community. The gift we hold is the ability to love and care for each other. Loving each other does not mean we have to always agree but it means we still cherish, respect, care, and love each other along the way. If we love each other the way Christ calls us to love each other, Christ’s love will be intoxicating for those outside our walls. We must be willing to invite others to share in Christ’s love that we display naturally in our faith family. By building and nurturing healthy Christ like relationships, we all win. Let us all share the ball and share the love as we do the work of our Lord.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Here are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers

1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English.
What most people don't know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she'd always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
2. He made thieves think twice. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town.
Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it
3. He watched his figure to the pound. In covering Rogers' daily routine (waking up at 5 a.m.; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life.
He didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I'm not sure if any of that was because he'd mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143.

According to the piece, Rogers came "to see that number as a gift... because, as he says, "the number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three."
4. He saved both public television and the VCR. Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut public television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington.
Almost straight out of a Frank Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million.
Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR's to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.
5. He might have been the most tolerant American ever. Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first.
Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, "God loves you just the way you are." Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.
6. He was genuinely curious about others. Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he'd often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn't concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others.
And it wasn't just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec's house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host).
On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver's home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
7. He was color-blind. Literally. He couldn't see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents, who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.
8. He could make a subway car full of strangers sing. Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn't be noticed.
But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." The result made Rogers smile wide.
9. He got into TV because he hated TV.. The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other's faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn't be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won't fit!), to divorce and war.
10. He was an Ivy League dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.
11. He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.
12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.
13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant. He helped puppeteer and operate the trolley.
14. Several characters on the show are named for his family. Queen Sara is named after Rogers' wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.
15. The sweaters. Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.
Rock on Fred.. May we all learn from your example.

“Waiting, Worrying, and Watching.”

The day our daughter Abby was born was one of the most exciting, meaningful, and spiritual experience for me. I will admit that I was the one without the excruciating pain so I was able to have a more reflective perspective on the event. It was the first time I had witnessed a birth of anything, especially a child. The event was not at all like I had imaged or watched in the DVD at the birthing classes we took. When the crucial time for delivery came, the Dr. had not arrived. He barged in at the last second, began giving clear direct instructions to me and one nurse. I kept looking at him in confusion, until I realized we were the only ones that were there and no one else was coming. I assumed the hospital was filled with nurses and medical personnel. I was not to participate, I was just supposed to watch and coach, yell “push!”, get Kellie’s mind off the pain. That was my job and I was ready. I shouted to the Dr. “Isn’t there anyone around here more qualified to do this than me! I made a C in biology.” “No!” he replied as he gave me more instructions. I did not argue or think, I just began to follow his directions. Participating instead of watching gave me a richer fuller experience of the beauty of Gods activity in creation. The problem I had was waiting for someone else to show up and not trusting my own ability to follow clear directions. Still today sometimes when Christ calls us into action or gives us an opportunity to share His love with someone, we doubt our abilities or sit back and wait for someone else more qualified. When we get involved and serve others, when we participate, get in there and get our hands dirty, we gain a new deeper richer self awareness and spiritual experience. There is a big difference between doing the church’s work and doing Christ’s work. Service to the church is simply performing the duties, tasks and requirements needed to keep the church running and functioning. Service to Christ is living a life that is reflective of the gospel, forming relationships that introduce people to Christ’s love, and opening ourselves up and sharing how God has sustained us through the dark times in our lives. God relies on you and me not for us to wait for someone more qualified. His example and direction is found in the life of our Savior Jesus Christ. In the process we gain a deeper meaningful spiritual experience which is far better than just waiting, watching and worrying.
Serve God, Share Christ and take care of yourself and one another.