First Third Conversations

Mr. Rogers and Mission

By Derek Tronsgard

Earlier this week the city of Boston was rocked by bombs and tragedy.  And ever since Monday, the 24-hour news cycle, the internet, TV, radio, and other media have been covering the fallout non-stop. 

And in the midst of all of the coverage and saturation of this event, one sentiment has gone viral.  I've seen it all over Twitter, my Facebook feed, on aggregator sites like Reddit, and even in everyday conversations with people.

This sentiment originated (as far as I can tell) as a tweet from the comedian Patton Oswalt on the day of the attacks.  And at the time of writing this, that tweet has been re-tweeted by almost 9,000 people.

And in that tweet, Patton Oswalt quotes a smaller piece of something that Mr. Rogers said on his PBS children's show Mr. Roger's Neighborhood:

When I was a little boy and something bad happened on the news, my mother would tell me to look for the helpers.  'You'll always find people helping', she'd say.  And I've found that that's true.  In fact, it's one of the best things about our wonderful world. - Fred Rogers

And in these words, Mr. Rogers, who was also an ordained Presbyterian minister, hits on the key piece of what Mission is and why we do it.

Mission is helping.  It's helping in the midst of evil, pain, and suffering.  Mission is unleashing a power greater than fear, terror, hate, or death.  Mission is witnessing to God's Kingdom and God's Resurrection – witnessing to the New Creation that is here and is yet to come.

And my hunch is that people are starving for that witness.  People are starving for Mission – for God's Spirit to break into their lives.  People are looking for signs of hope in the midst of all these things. 

That's why Patton Oswalt's tweet went viral.  That's why the live audience of the Colbert Report burst with emotion when he talked about marathon runners finishing the race on Monday and then running two more miles to donate blood to the victims.

And that's why, as followers of Christ, we do Mission.  That's why we live Mission, share Mission, teach Mission, and preach Mission.

And so while the Church focuses on things like worship, music, programs, sermons, doctrine, theology, evangelism, meetings, and membership, the World starves for Mission.  The World yearns for a witness of hope – of love.  The World aches for signs pointing to God's New Creation, God's Kingdom, and Christ's Resurrection.

The Kingdom's here.  Let's show it.

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Derek Tronsgard is the Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Mound, MN where he lives with his wife and Golden Retriever.  He is also a semi-pro nerd who loves fantasy sports and comic books.  You can follow him on Twitter (@derektronsgard).

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