Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mr. Rogers and being thankful


One of my favorite TV shows as a child was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. You may recall his catchy song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”, his cardigan sweaters, and his red toy trolley that traveled to the land of “make believe”. Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was unsatisfied with television programming for children and created the well-known TV program that has become an icon in children’s television history.

Years after watching the program, I read a memoir by Tim Madigan called, ‘I’m proud of you’. In this book, I learned how important compassion and thanksgiving inspired Fred Rogers not only to reach out to the children of world, but also to singular individuals. After an interview conducted by Tim, Fred befriended him and became an important friend and mentor throughout his life. What could have been a one time meeting turned into life-changing friendship. Fred Rogers seemed to have an amazing ability to connect with people – and stay connected in meaningful ways. 

Some might not first consider friendship, mentor-ship and making children’s television programs to be mission work. But I disagree. I think Mr. Rogers life – professionally and personally – reflected God’s love in everyday but life-changing ways. I for one am very thankful for Fred Rogers example as well as Mr. Madigan’s book expressing gratitude for one person’s caring actions.


Gratitude is a powerful tool in the battle with discouragement and disillusionment. Gratitude is a gift God gives to us and helps us to find the “beautiful day” in the midst of the challenges in our everyday life.

Psalm 28:7 reads, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” 

This Psalm helps to re frame where our strength comes from and reminds us that there is a song of thanksgiving that we are called to sing. Sometimes this song of thanks can help us to carry on in life, but other times it is a tune that projects out to those around us that are in great need of compassion – like Fred was for Tim.

Thanksgiving and compassion are more than a day or season to kick off the 2014 holiday season. Thanksgiving is what we carry in our hearts, put on like a cardigan sweaters and tie on our feel like comfortable walking shoes.

Thanksgiving is the foundation for starting to sing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor…won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine, won’t you be – my neighbor.”


Sing your song of thanksgiving – make a new friend and let the love and friendship God has given be what motivates action of love, encouragement and thanksgiving throughout your neighborhood and mine. Happy thanksgiving, neighbor.