In February of 2003 Fred Rogers passed away. Rogers was the man responsible for creating Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a program on public television that sought to let all children know how much they are loved and how very special they are. Rogers, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian church, did the show for 33 years; it can still be seen on many public television stations.
In a 1997 interview, Rogers recalled, “When I saw television for the first time, I saw people throwing pies in each other’s faces—demeaning things. I knew then that this medium needed to be used for things that might elevate the human spirit, not denigrate it.”
Our heavenly Father looked at the world he had created. He watched the people made in his own image and saw them doing cruel, demeaning things to each other. They were even taking the trees he had created and using them to make an instrument of torture and death called a cross. Our Father determined he would use that demeaning, humiliating object and make it the means of hope and salvation for all humanity.
At his 1999 induction into the Television Hall of Fame, Fred Rogers told a Hollywood gathering, “Let’s just take 10 seconds to think of those people who loved us, and wanted what was best for us in life, those who have encouraged us to become who we are.” He then silently looked at his watch until the time had passed.
I suppose it takes about 10 seconds—perhaps less than that—to take Communion, to eat the portion of bread and drink from the cup. But what an important 10 seconds that is—focused on Jesus who loved us and wanted what was best for us, so much that he gave his life on the cross for us.
Of course, our expression of gratitude to Jesus must not be limited to the 10 seconds of participation in Communion. But perhaps those seconds can challenge us to stay vigilant every day and sensitive to those special times (like a child’s laugh, kind words exchanged with a friend, or a brilliant sunrise or sunset) which, though ever so brief, let us know that in a world where many demeaning, humiliating acts still take place, our Father still loves us and wants the best for us.
Doug Redford serves as minister with Highview Christian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.