On Friday I stumbled upon an unexpected gift. There was a post on our JCPC website which contained a YouTube clip from the movie
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. If you haven't viewed it either stop reading now and go to JCPC on Facebook or go there upon completion of reading this post. The unexpected gift was an exercise that Mr. Rogers invited a friend to do with him. Here it is:
Sit quietly for a minute and think of all the people who loved you into being.
Loved into being! Think about all who have loved you into being. Certainly you think of your mother who was celebrated yesterday on Mother's Day. Who else comes to mind? When I practice this exercise I notice people I think often about and I am pleasantly surprised to think of those who reside on the edges of my memory but who spring to life when I invoke their loving kindness and acknowledge they are baked into the cake of the recipe of my being. Oh the gift of love and its power to shape our sense of being.
Reading scripture is another exercise in focusing on who loved us into being. The Hebrew word for steadfast love, hesed, is a primary attribute of God.
Psalm 136 begins this way; Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love (hesed) endures forever. From the beginning God is good and as the psalm proceeds it is proclaimed that we are loved into being. Who by his understanding made the heavens, his steadfast love (hesed) endures forever. God's steadfast love, hesed, also saves us.
Read Psalm 136 in its entirety.
Loved into being is both the frame and the picture of the psalmist's painting of God. Hesed is used 250 times in the Old Testament so if somebody says we don't need the God of the Old Testament you can reply "Need Him; I'm here because of Him?!!" God is the one who has loved me into being!"