Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mr. Rogers' Last Words

(Somewhere in Michigan)

Before he broadcast each episode of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" to millions of children, Fred Rogers would recite a short prayer.
"Let some word that is heard be thine," he prayed. (From here.)
Rogers said his Christian faith was as fundamental to him as DNA.
"He saw the potential in every human encounter for something holy to happen, and he saw that as the work of the Holy Spirit. He often told a story about going to hear a famous preacher, but a substitute was there instead, and Rogers didn't think the sermon was very good. But the person he was sitting next to said it had been just what she needed to hear. He realized in that moment that he could trust that if he was offering his television show in good faith, then whatever shortcomings he had, the Holy Spirit would do the work necessary so that people could receive the grace they needed." (Ib.)
"His last words are pretty haunting. He asked his wife if he was a "sheep," referring to the Last Judgment in the Bible, when Jesus separates the good sheep from the bad goats." (Ib.)
Mr. Rogers was friends with, and influenced by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen said the core question of life is Who do you belong to? Rogers' last words, a question, can be rephrased: Do I belong to Jesus? For Mr. Rogers, Henri Nouwen, and me, this is what is truly important. And the answer is: Yes.

See Mr. Rogers' contribution on his friendship with Henri Nouwen in Nouwen Then.