This weekend our parish’s Faith & Film offering was Won’t You Be my Neighbor, the documentary about Fred Rogers. My daughter had never seen a documentary before, and I was a bit anxious about her attending for fear she would be bored or the film would be too advanced for her. Ultimately, it was a risk I was willing to take because although though I knew she had never watched Mr. Rogers, I also knew she would appreciate his message.
But the true test came on the drive home. As we were riding along, my daughter said, “You know what, Mom? I think if Mr. Rogers were alive today, he would be a part of WMBGkind.” Right then, I knew that she got it – that she had been paying attention to the witness of Mr. Rogers and his ministry of teaching children about the dignity of every human being. That is what kindness is really all about – honoring and respecting the dignity of other human beings – no matter their age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, ability, or even their own ability to show kindness in return.
This Sunday, we are baptizing a baby into the household of God. As part of that ritual, we will make promises about our own spiritual journey. We will promise to gather regularly in Christian community, breaking bread and praying together; to resist evil, and repent when we fail; to proclaim the Word of God in word and deed; to seek and serve Christ, loving neighbors as ourselves; and to strive for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of every human being. We promise to do what Christ asked us to do: love God, love your neighbor, love yourself.
I love that my daughter is affirming her baptismal identity at Hickory Neck – whether she sees Christian witness through Mr. Rogers or through her Sunday School teachers. I love that our younger children and older youth are learning how to live into their baptismal identity – whether through nursery care providers or youth group leaders. And I love that our adults are still learning to live into their baptismal identities – through preaching, teaching, and our children’s witness. At Hickory Neck, we are working across generations to keep loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving ourselves. If you are in need of a community to help you claim that same identity and purpose, know that you are always welcome here – won’t you be our neighbor?