by Rev. Doug Martindale
“His baptism -- a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit -- will change you
from the inside out.”
The Baptism of Jesus
Last Sunday our worship leader Bob Thompson said:
“...we need an inner vision to see the world differently and to transform that vision into a changed world.”
I'd like to build on this and ask:
How do we get that inner vision?
How might we see the world differently?
John the baptizer says that God's Spirit will change us from the inside out.
How might we be transformed from the inside out?
There is a fascinating movie called: “Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood” about Mr. Rogers, the host of the TV show for children. Based on a real life interaction he is interviewed by a cynical journalist named Lloyd, who in the movie is alienated from his father and a deeply bruised individual. Lloyd is asked by his editor to write 400 words, which he could easily have done after one interview. Instead, he goes back over and over and over to Philadelphia and the TV studio where Fred Rogers tapes his shows. He also watches hours and hours of Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood, the TV show. He is invited to Fred Rogers home where he meets his wife and engages in real conversations with Fred.
If you haven't already, I invite you to watch this fascinating movie: Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.
Lloyd writes an article that is 10,000 words long which makes the front cover of Esquire magazine. Lloyd and Fred develop a friendship, initiated by Fred Rogers who cares deeply about him and his anger that gets him and his brokenness. It took a long time before the journalist can see and feel what makes Mr. Rogers tick. Mr. Rogers invited him to lunch and invited him to his home, even though Lloyd had a reputation for being a tough and even unfair journalist. Why did Mr. Rogers do that?
Eventually Lloyd experiences Mr. Rogers' patience, compassion and real conversations.
The most poignant moment for me was the scene where Mr. Rogers and Lloyd are having lunch together in a restaurant. We are going to watch it together now. When Mr. Rogers invites Lloyd to spend one minute thinking about all the people who loved him into being, I invite all of us to do the same.
Mr. Rogers has the ability to be present with each person and to be fully engaged and listen. Lloyd believes he did it through discipline and prayer. He practiced prayer not as asking for things, rather, as changing us, changing the pray-er. He prayed twice every day, while he swam every morning and kneeling by his bed every evening. This touches me because I remember praying as I swam lengths at the YMCA in Winnipeg. I prayed for every member of the Government by name, while I was in the Official Opposition. It is difficult to judge someone when you pray for them, and much easier to love them.
John the Baptizer said Jesus' baptism in the Spirit will change us from the inside out.
How do we change from the inside out-perhaps that part of us that judges, blames, disconnects, condemns, regrets?
What would it look like to be engaged every day in the process of changing from the inside out?
Lloyd is at his father's bedside when his father is dying. His father is a seemingly broken, regret filled man. Mr. Rogers comes to visit him and surprisingly, asks the dying man to pray for him, sensing he was close to God. He also knows that prayer changes us, from the inside out, so he gave Lloyd's father an opportunity to change, even on his deathbed.
Here is a suggested practice for all of us, knowing that we are just at the beginning:
When friends ask us to pray for them, we pause and breath into our hearts to centre ourselves in loving Presence.
We then connect that friend or family member into that loving Presence and guidance.
As we feel those parts of ourselves that concern us, we can pray for ourselves.
We fall into God's presence, allowing these parts to come out of the shadows and into the light of day. Amen.