“[Jesus] called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.’ – Mark 6:7-9
Do you notice the way Jesus sent the disciples out on their journey? When we look at it, it appears that Jesus is sending the disciples as if he were sending them on a walk around their neighborhood. If you are heading on an overnight adventure, the list is oddly restrictive. No food, no bags, no money, and only one set of clothing (a tunic in this case). Jesus is sending the disciples with the bare minimum of supplies. When we consider why, it is my thought that Jesus is sending the twelve out to become neighbors with the people they meet.
There is a very popular documentary currently in theaters called, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” This film features the life and story of Mr. Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. While I have not yet seen this film, it is a movie that is definitely on my “to watch” list. But what is very much in line with Jesus in this excerpt from Mark is that Mister Rogers had the desire to build relationships, which he would initiate by asking, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” This statement is an open invitation not conditioned on anything. Mister Rogers spoke these words to a camera and it was for any person who had a television screen.
Fred Rogers, in addition to being a television icon, was also a pastor in the Presbyterian Church, a seminary graduate and all. Among many, there seems to be an organic movement for recognizing Fred Rogers as a saint. While not martyred for his faith, Fred Rogers lived a godly life. According to the Augsburg Confession (the document that makes Lutherans Lutheran), “saints are to be remembered so that we may strengthen our faith when we see how they experienced grace and how they were helped by faith. Moreover, it is taught that each person, according to his or her calling, should take the saints’ good works as an example.” By this definition, sainthood requires one to be inspired and instructed by the potential saint’s life. It seems apparent that many are already inspired and instructed by Mr. Fred Rogers’ life.
It is part of the Christian calling to be neighbors to all. Whenever you go forth into the world, consider living into the example of Fred Rogers. Carry with yourselves a neighborly attitude and intention.
God continue to be with you!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+