Letter From the Editor: Fall 2018

I’ve been pondering a bit lately about Mr. Rogers. You know, the “Won’t you be my neighbor” guy? It’s probably because I saw the documentary about his life last summer — twice! What an amazing man with an enormous heart. For over 30 years his message of love others and love yourself captivated children and parents alike. But I believe it was his pastoral call, and his love for God that drove him to reach as many children as possible with his television neighborhood of kindness, love, and extravagant grace.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was a sacred space where he seemingly would talk one-on-one with multitudes of children at the same time about their feelings, their dreams, God’s creation, relationships, and cultural issues of the day through the means of educational television. He entered through the same door of his very low-budget set singing the same endearing song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood… Won’t you be my neighbor?” every afternoon. As he sang, he stopped by his closet to slip off his coat and into a cozy sweater. Next, he meandered over to the old wooden bench to take off his dress shoes and put on a comfortable pair of blue Keds. All designed to build trust with the children and to bring calm into the homes of those watching. After his famous entrance, he moved into the theme of the day through his interaction with his “neighbors” who dropped by to say hello. The trolley always took the viewers on a trip into the Land of Make-Believe where puppets were used to discuss problems and how to resolve them. (Mr. Rogers did all of the puppets’ voices.) Over 1700 episodes were created, and they all started off the same way, and ended with, “I like you, just the way you are.”

Simple, but powerful.

Another simple, powerful, and well-known pastor was Dr. Billy Graham. You are in for a treat as his friend and pastor, Dr. Don Wilton, takes you behind the scenes to get a glimpse into the life of “Billy” and the treasured friendship they shared.

You’ll also meet some new neighbors in this issue, as well as some seasoned ones who visit with us on a regular basis. All of the articles are written to bring you into the Living Real neighborhood to help you learn, grow, and be encouraged as you seek to grow up in Christ Jesus.

The bottom line is we need to see all people with the imprint of God’s image in them. People are our neighbors, and when we love God deeply we begin to see people the way God sees them. Real love changes us first. It changes the way we treat others, especially those different from us, and helps us love them as Christ loves us with forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Jesus said it best when He addressed the greatest commandment question in Matthew 22:37-39 saying, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Keepin’ it Real,

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