The Center for Leadership Excellence, in partnership with COSROW, is pleased to lift up the voices of women in ministry encouraging fellow women in ministry. Please enjoy this month’s Encouragement from Lindsay Collins, pastor of Trinity UMC in Elizabethtown. Anyone can sign up to receive these monthly emails here.
One of my favorite verses from the Bible is John 1:14 and I particularly love the way that the Rev. Eugene Peterson translates this verse in The Message: “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
The first time I read that translation of this familiar text, I was instantly transported back to being a preschooler at the rapt attention of Mr. Rogers through my grandmother’s television screen. In my mind I began to hear him singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!”
Mr. Rogers taught me about grace at an early age. At the end of each episode, he would look us each in the eye and say, “You always make each day a special day. You know how? By just being you. There’s only one person in the world that’s like you, and that’s you. And people can like you just the way you are.”
It was a brilliant sermon delivered to a rapt audience of millions of preschoolers across the country 5 days of week for 33 years through Public Broadcasting.
Through Christ, God became a neighbor to everyone in the whole world, including us. We are God’s own children. As Scripture says: “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
And even more than being children of God, Scripture tells us that “from his fullness we have been given grace upon grace”(John 1:16). And as Mr. Rogers taught us, grace is the message that God doesn’t just like us, but God loves us, just for being ourselves.
Read John 1:1-18:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Reflect: What does grace mean to you? How would you explain grace to a young child? How did Mr. Rogers embody grace? How might Mr. Rogers’ congregation not have been the congregation that he initially imagined he would pastor? How did God’s grace show up for Mr. Rogers anyway? Where are other places in your life that you see God’s grace at work?
Take Action: Sometimes it’s hard to feel worthy of the love of God and the love of others. How can you set aside the expectation of your congregation (or other ministry setting)? Your family? Your own expectations? And in its place, how can you center yourself in this truth of God’s grace? “You always make each day a special day. You know how? By just being you. There’s only one person in the world that’s like you, and that’s you. And people can like you just the way you are.”
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women