Weekly Message from T. J.

Just One Person

I was Snoopy once. It sounds funny, but it’s true. In high school we did a production of the musical Snoopy!, which is a darling musical about…well…Snoopy, the beloved Peanuts character. One of the things we did to promote the musical in high school was to spend a day traveling around many of the more junior schools performing a few of the numbers. And a lot of the children came to see the show. But it was what happened after the show that struck me more: kids would recognize me around town as…well…Snoopy.

Blessedly the recognition faded, and I did move away from town. But something of that experience stayed with me. It was such a special cast of 7 of us, a magical number. The entire cast made something of a go of acting or music after high school. And to this day, I am in regular touch with some of the cast. But I love them all deeply. In fact, Heather Moran, who sang for us on Women’s History Sunday was Peppermint Patty in that production. There is something special about being part of an ensemble that comes together to put something new and fun into the world.

I watched the Peanuts special again this past week, as some of your might have gathered from my sermon. And I was touched by the sweet voice of the actress who played Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister. And when I heard that voice, I remembered sitting in my apartment in Queens after graduating college, and hearing the terrible news. The young woman who played Sally in our own production, who was in college, had died. I was in a car that weekend with Peppermint Patty and Woodstock, traveling to meet the rest of the cast and many more for the memorial.

At the memorial, dozens of voices who’d joined together in life with our friend, sang again together to honor her death. We sang “Just One Person,” a song with the message that it takes a person to believe in you, before you really can believe in yourself. And belief is like that sometimes. The meaning of belief is rooted in the idea of “what you rest your heart upon.” It’s hard to rest a breaking heart. But there is nothing like losing something you believed in to make you treasure what you have.

In the coming days, a celebration of a child’s life that sparked revolutionary belief will be upon many around the globe. This may not be your faith, but it is still a reminder to notice where we rest our hearts today. And so I offer these hopes for you. May we rest in the care of a community that seeks justice. May we rest in the kindness of friends. And may we rest in the sacred task of sometimes being just one person, believing in another person, and knowing that act, of bringing one heart to bear with another’s, is an act that can literally change the world…just one person at a time.

Joy to each one of you and joy to the world.
Rev. T. J.

3 Responses to “Weekly Message from T. J.

  1. I have a Charlie Brown tree (complete with Linus blanket at the base) up in my apartment at this moment, and “Linus and Lucy” was my cellphone ringtone for many years. 🙂 Blessings on you and all church members this holiday season, T. J. Thank you for being one of those lights in our community.

  2. My Junior class play was DINO. I played the probation officer . It was a 2 night production and I woke up the morning of the last production with laryngitis. I had no understudy, and Roy Carafelley–our director-said to not speak all day and carry a spray of chloraseptic in a brief case asn spray my throat just before speaking my part in the play that night. It worked! We also had after parties both nights cementing our relationships for a life time. Roy was tragically killed in a head on collision coming home for spring break from Northern Michigan University. Those of us left from the cast still are in contact. That’s 60 years ago.

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