Mister Rogers and the Spirit of ChristmasDec 18, 2019
As a young kid, I never watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I thought it was goofy and childish. Instead, I opted to watch shows featuring superheroes like Captain America, Batman, and Superman. These characters were heroic and demonstrated great physical strength. Mister Rogers on the other hand came across to me as weak and timid. This image changed dramatically (and only very recently). I had read a glowing review about a Mister Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” prompting me to watch it. Afterward, my perception of Fred Rogers shifted significantly. There seemed to be so much more depth to the man than I’d ever realized. Then (just this week) I watched “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers. The movie is based on a true story about a cynical (and angry) writer for Esquire magazine assigned to write a piece on Mister Rogers. What began as a “standard” writing assignment evolved into what amounts to the reporter’s deep spiritual conversion. This came about as a result of the love, care, and compassion shown by Fred Rogers during their interactions. They went on to become lifelong friends.
It turns out that my childhood notion of what constitutes a superhero was wrong. Mister Rogers had it right. He showed us that true strength is demonstrated in humility and vulnerability. That mental and spiritual strength are more important than physical.
The example he set, and the wisdom shared with children and adults alike, embodies the true spirit of Christmas; Love. And that’s the gift that God sent into the world on Christmas Day – Jesus Christ!