Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in theaters now and one of the most incredible films of Tom Hanks' career. It's about America's pastor, Mr. Rogers, and very much for adults and teens. The messages and themes are more important than ever. One of those poignant messages is one of the ideas Fred tried to impress on all of us throughout his life and ministry, a mantra of sorts. "Anything human is mentionable. Anything mentionable is manageable."
This is critical for all of us to learn, so we can navigate the tough subjects with which we wrestle, from faith and friendship and family to suffering, and as Fred says in the movie, death. Most of us are taught as polite Southerners or good Mid-westerners or pragmatic Northerners that speaking about hot topics like religion or politics. This is largely because we have forgotten that important childhood lesson from Mr. Rogers. The passion, the goodness, the mad or frustration we feel is mentionable and manageable. We can express ourselves in managed ways and "stop stop stop when we want." A skill that is essential to authentic and caring relationships and gatherings... like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This week, we will gather with the people we love, and many parties and gatherings in the weeks to come. We can be polite (or rude) or we can be authentic and loving. Fred said repeatedly that love wasn't a perfect state of caring. It requires of us to do the work. We may have to cover tough subjects or deal with relatives with whom we have had hard times over the years or faced mutual loss. We will have to offer and receive forgiveness, which Fred called, "It's a decision we make to release a person from the feelings of anger we have against them." In other words, we aren't called to just be polite and avoid the tough stuff. We are called to work very hard to love one another and manage our emotions together. I hope your gatherings will be full of that kind of authenticity and love. And I hope you have a beautiful day in your neighborhood.