The Helpers

I just loved Mister Rogers; first as a kid, then as a preschool teacher. I still do. He had such a calm quiet voice. He was gentle and kind. He spoke with such care and concern for the characters on his show. We know through interviews with press and his family and friends that this was how just Fred did things; it was who he was all the time. There is a wonderful quote from him, which you have probably seen or heard over the last few weeks:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

Fred was a helper. He advocated for educational opportunities for all children. He was inclusive of children and adults of different abilities. He fought for public broadcast to continue when funding was threatened. He called for social action and took a stand against racial inequality. He brought awareness of mental illness and the importance of teaching children how to deal with big emotions. He was a helper. And I get the feeling he learned by watching his parents and grandparents.

Church, can I ask you a question? Are you being ‘the helpers’? If your neighbors were interviewed on the news tonight, what would they say about you? Would they say, “Oh my neighbor _______ is a huge help to my family. They checked on us and made sure we had what we needed. I am so glad for their help! I knew I could count on them. It’s just who they are!” Or would those around you describe you differently? Would they say, “Oh my neighbor _______ is probably sick with that virus! They came home a few weeks ago and locked themselves in their house. I haven’t seen or heard from them. I know not to go there and ask for help.”

Church, listen. We have a unique opportunity to reach the world around us, even if it’s ‘just’ our block. I understand that in this current reality of social distancing, we are limited in what we can do. We are not going to invite others into our homes, or go looking to shake hands with the whole block. But we can leave an encouraging note card in the mailbox with scripture. We can invite them to attend online services and learn groups. We can let them know that the kids and youth ministries have resources for parents who need creative ideas to keep the kids busy. We can lean over the fence when we hear the mower and ask ‘How can I pray for you neighbor? Or ‘You need anything?’ We can invite them to a driveway picnic lunch (you stay on your driveway, and they stay on theirs, and you chat over the grass in-between). I could keep going on with ideas, but I think you get the picture.

Just as Fred learned from his family how to be a helper, our children and grandchildren are watching us now. This time in their lives will have a profound impact of them forever. What will they see? Will they see panic, anxiety, and isolation? Or will they see peace from the Lord, calm intentionality, and community care? We have an opportunity to touch hearts for the Kingdom, both within our families and our communities, even if we can’t touch hands. Church, let’s go be ‘the helpers’.
Pastor Sarah