Fred Rogers Series – First Pastoral Prayer

Hello, Neighbor-Maker,

Hello, Friend of Us All,


We come to worship and make plain our feelings before you.

Perhaps in sharing them with you we will find the courage needed to be honest with ourselves and those with whom we sit in this room.

Some of us are sad.

Some of us are angry.

Some of us are afraid.

Puerto Rico with the aftermath of earthquake.

Separation of children from their parents.

Rampant addiction and a society that

views it as a matter of choice rather than disease.

In each disaster, both natural and made by our hands,

comes the quote of Mr. Rogers. When he was young and scared,

his mother told him to “look for the helpers.”

We look for the helpers.

And for a moment we know relief.

Then the flood of more terrible news:

lack of clean, drinkable water -still- in more than one American city

infants cared for by adolescents in immigrant camps,

people aging in their homes without sufficient

access to transportation, medicine or food.

As we look for the helpers, move us toward the mirror.

Help us see in the reflection a child

loved by you, intrinsically lovable, and capable of loving.

Help us name our emotions and be brave enough to act on them

in constructive, compassionate ways.

It is each of us,

so beautifully and wonderfully made,

that can be a helper, too.


Fred Rogers Sermon Series

IMG_0066Outline for the Fred Rogers Series (2020 rogers series PDF)

Developed through a variety of sources:

Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers by Michael G. Long

Won’t You Be My Neighbor (2018) Documentary by Morgan Neville

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers

Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers

My Friend Mister Rogers by Tom Junod in The Atlantic

The Mister Rogers No One Saw by Jeanne Marie Laskis

Jolt for the Series: I am a parent who is nearly 40, raising a preschooler, and afraid all the time. I am afraid of the routine trips for groceries, the risk of ruining a small person and most of all, the power-welders in our country who seem to live outside of this fear. The gun violence, white nationalist, pax-romana obsessed leaders who would rather argue about who deserves food stamps than just make sure everyone gets to eat. Mr. Roger’s quote about his mother’s advice “look for the helpers” is shared with each new gun violence incident. I triggers the rage that lives right by the fear. I do not want to look for helpers. I’m tired of the advice when what I want are not helpers but peace-makers. God’s reign on earth is desperate for peacemakers. If I could boil-down my one hope for parenting it is that I raise a heaven-raising peacemaker. Over the course of the last 5-6 years as we anticipated and embraced our child, it has been the work of Fred Rogers (most currently seen in Daniel Tiger) that keeps me grounded in the moment to parent in a way that makes room for both my child’s feelings and development, but my own.

Then, I found Long’s Peaceful Neighbor. Plus, I preach. That’s what I do. So, we’ve got this series. Hope it’s helpful for modern Christians who want more of their leaders, their church and themselves on behalf of their own children and/or their inner child, who is made in God’s image – completely loved, worthy of love and capable of loving. To create and recreate ourselves and our young people with this knowledge is the call of God on Christians who seek peace.

First Sunday “It’s Okay to Be Angry”

Rogers believed in the idea of the divine spark internal to each person (and creation.) He worked to create emotionally intelligent children who can know themselves, self-regulate emotion with best practices and be in tune with who they are. By doing so,  we are able to be in tune with our deepest purposes and God’s call. If we do not know ourselves, how can we possibly engage and nurture one another? If we do not love ourselves, as God does, how can we function from a place of compassion and empathy in order to create a peaceful reign of God. Loving one’s self, knowing one’s self and developing practices that empower them is a way of inner peace.

Chalice Hymns: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (5), Standing in the Need of Prayer (579 vs 1 and 4), I’m Gonna Eat at the Welcome Table (424)

Scripture: I Corinthians 1:4-9, Mark 9: 33-37, Psalm 139 (sermon scripture)

Call to Worship: from the song The Truth Will Make Me Free in The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers (pg 16-17)

One: What if I were very, very sad and all I did was smile? I wonder after awhile what might become of my anger? 
Many: The truth will set us free.
One: What if I were very, very angry and all I did was sit and never think about it? What might become of my anger?
Many: The truth will set us free.
One: Where would they go and what would they do, if I couldn’t let them out? Maybe I’d fall, maybe get sick or doubt.
Many: The truth will set us free.
One: But what if I could know the truth and say just how I feel? I think I’d learn a lot that’s real about freedom.
Many: The truth will set us free.


Second Sunday “I Like You – Just the Way You Are”

Building whole individuals is the core to building whole communities. Whole, peaceful communities rely on each person being their full selves and nurturing the every single person to  do so as well. “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.” (The World…137) If we are committed to God’s reign , we must admit that God’s ways are ones of embrace, welcome and love. Each of us have a place in the body of Christ, in building a peaceable kingdom. We need each other, just as we are. That need is something we cannot overcome or change or earn or “be more worthy” in order to let go. We cannot exists without knowing that we are each a giver and each a receiver, woven together into God’s creation.

Chalice Hymns: Gather Us In (284), The Church of Christ in Every Age (vs. 1-3 475), One Bread, One Body (393)

Scripture: I Corinthians 12:12-18, Psalm 126, Mark 4:1-9 (sermon scripture-what soil is it that reflects our harsh treatments and expectations of one another. are we nurturing the ground/person to be able to sow love)

Call to Worship: from the song Won’t You Be My Neighbor in The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers (pg 142)

One: I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!

Many: Won’t you be my neighbor?

One: I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

Many: Won’t you be my neighbor?

One: So let’s make the most of this beautiful day; Since we’re together we might as well say,

Many: Won’t you be my neighbor?

One: Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

Many: Won’t you be my neighbor?


Third Sunday “Isn’t Peace Wonderful/War Isn’t Nice”

Fred Rogers was a devoted pacifist. HIs commitment to peace was inner and interpersonal. He was adamantly opposed to war. His work to ensure the care of children, particularly military children, left a permanent mark of compassion in our country.

For many, rejecting a purist pacifism for a pragmatist’s approach about when we must use violence in the face of violence keeps us from seeing our personal responsibility to prefect harm. We make a boogie man of the enemy, unable to see compassionately. Instead of seeing the multitude of problems and multitude responsibilities, we become the monster we hate, enabling the exploitation of other people who may be an arms length or continents away.

We are the makers of our demise and cycles/generations of harm.

Chalice Hymns: O God of Vision (288),  Lord, Whose Love through Humble Service (461), Here at Thy Table, Lord (384)

Scripture: I Corinthians 3:10-18, Psalm 89:1-4, Mark 5:1-13

Call to Worship: adapted/inspired from the song I Did Too in Many Ways to Say I Love You by Fred Rogers (pg 18-19)

One: Did you ever fall and hurt your hand or knee?

Many: I did too. It seems the things that you do!

One: Did you ever bite your tongue or slam your thumb?

Many: I did too. It seems the things that you do!

One: Did you ever wonder if the person next you is really your neighbor?

Many: I did too. It seems the things that you do!

One: Did you ever believe the negative news that the enemy is not a person, too?

Many: I did too. It seems the things that you do!

One: Help us remember, O God, we are all people. We are all neighbors, with hurts and fears, friends and joy to share.


Fourth Sunday “Weren’t those Cows Beautiful?”

Fred Rogers’ pacifism led him to take on vegetarian diet. He focused on the worth of all God’s creation and believed animals were wrapped in that love as well. He included pets in his show, advocated for the end of dying chicks for sale at Easter and introduced children to dairy farms. He understood a meat-fueled fast food diet to contribute to unhealthy habits in children. Vegetarian diets are also gentler on the earth, providing opportunity for food to shared more widely. Rogers highlighted care for the planet and connection to all creation in his show. Return to pg 173-176, regarding Haley’s Comet and “every fish is fancy one way or another. Just like every person is fancy in one way or another…There is something fancy about every creature in the world, and there’s something fine about each one of us, too. Each person, each fish, each animal, each bird, each living creature.”

Chalice Hymns: All Things Bright and Beautiful (61), Bless Now, O God, the Journey (489), Seed, Scattered and Sown (395)

Scripture: I Corinthians 11:17-22, Psalm 104:1-4, 10-16, Mark 6:30-40

Call to Worship: adapted/inspired from the song There Are Many Ways to Sat I Love You in Many Ways to Say I Love You by Fred Rogers (pg 96)

One: Singing, baking, an invitation to play! There are many ways to say

Many: I love you.

One: Remembering birthdays. Making a card. There are many ways to say

Many: I love you.

One: Opening a door. Offering a meal. There are many ways to say

Many: I love you.

One: Not just to family, not just to friends; to our planet and all creation;  Help us, God, to remember there are many ways to say