Original Posting At https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/youre-growing/
These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, September 23, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from 1 Peter 2:2-10. This is message is part of a series based on the wisdom and songs of Mr. Rogers entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” This sermon was based on the song “You’re Growing.”
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
It wasn’t long ago I was driving up I-495 with the twins when we approached a livestock trailer. As we began to pass, a horse stuck its head out the window of the trailer and in surprised screamed to the girls, “Horse! It’s a horse!” They giggled with excitement as I pulled up alongside. They waved to the horse and we began to pass. As passed the truck and merged into its lane, one of the twins asked, “Dadda, why is that girl driving the farmer’s truck?”
Her question gave me pause. I looked at her in the mirror and asked what she meant. And, she told me that farmers were boys not girls. We then had a long conversation about the fact that girls can be farmers too; and, that if she wanted to grow up and raise horses she could.
And so, I asked both the twins, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The question turned into a game for them. “You guess, Dadda.”
“A doctor, a lawyer, a farmer, a garbage truck driver, a construction worker?”
“A lawn mower, a veterinarian, a scientist, an activist, a politician, president, a revolutionary?”
“I give up, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
To which they both answered, “A kitty.”
“If you want to be a kitty when you grow up, then you can be kitty,” I told them.
It is asked of children all the time: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We monitor their growth, carefully checking their height and weight, monitoring their grades and education, and even their faith. As adults, it is our collective responsibility to help the generations that follow us to grow up—to learn and to mature so that they can one day contribute to and better the world in which they live.
We monitor the growth of our children, youth, and young adults in painstaking detail. Their success in life is, we tell ourselves, dependent upon their growth. And so we push them and ask them what they want to be when they grow up. But, at some point, we stop asking the question. Why?
Why don’t we ask adults how they’re growing and what they’d like to grow up to be?
Mr. Rogers once said that “When you were very young, you wanted to grow bigger and be able to do more and more things well. After you learned to crawl, then you tried to walk. When you could walk well, you soon tried to run. But to get bigger you had to give up some things you had and did when you were little. Growing means changing and people are born to grow.”
That’s such a simple yet profound statement, “Growing means changing and people are born to grow.” Note: Rogers did not qualify that statement. He didn’t say children are born to grow. While that may be true, he nevertheless generalizes the statement to include all persons. People are born to grow.
Yes there comes a time when your bones stop growing, in fact, they may even start to weaken and shrink, but you grow nonetheless. There are always new things to learn, new skills to acquire, new ideas to challenge old assumptions.
And, when it comes to faith, the same is true. You will never fully know the mystery that is God. God’s love is greater than you can ever conceive. There’s always more to know and experience. Faith should be ever-growing.
So Peter pleads with the church in our reading for today, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good then like newborn infants, long for pure, spiritual milk so that you may grow into salvation (cf. 1 Peter 2:3, 2, New Revised Standard Version).
Rogers asks us how we’re growing; Peter asks us into what we are growing into.
We’re all growing; the question is, into what?
As Christians we are called to grow into the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13), to have the mind that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). We are to cultivate holiness of heart and life till we are perfected in and by God’s love. We are called to constantly grow in God’s love and grace till we can faithfully share it with all; and, that is a lifelong pursuit. One you never grow too old for. So, how are you growing? You are. The question is: “into what?”
 Mr. Rogers as quoted in the Mister Rogers’ Songbook (New York: Random House, 1970), p.7. Emphasis added.