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  • Shawn Thornton

From Sesame Street to Barney

Tuesday - August 17th

Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 2:11-22


You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20

The world of children's educational television programming changed forever on November 10, 1969. On that date, the first episode of "Sesame Street" aired on PBS. Children like me, who were born in 1966, were the target audience for the show. We were three years of age, and Sesame Street was designed to help three and four-year-olds better prepare for school.

Jim Henson's muppets served as the core of the show's programming. Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, the Cookie Monster, and many other beloved characters became household names. Children loved to watch Sesame Street, and their parents were thrilled with the pre-school boost their kids got from the wholesome programming.

Nearly 25 years after Sesame Street aired, PBS launched a new children's program to help educate a whole new generation of preschool children. With Kermit, Oscar, Big Bird, and friends still extremely popular with young children, a purple dinosaur named "Barney" entered the weekday schedule of PBS on April 6, 1992. "Barney and Friends" became a hit with the children of Sesame Street's original target audience. The generation first raised on Sesame Street saw their children flock to watch the giant purple dinosaur for fun and learning.

The theme songs for both shows emphasize friendship, belonging, and learning with friends. One of the stanzas of "Sesame Street's" theme song says:

Come and play

Everything's A-OK

Friendly neighbors there

That's where we meet

Can you tell me how to get

How to get to Sesame Street

The final stanza of the "Barney and Friends" theme song says:

Barney comes to play with us

Whenever we may need him

Barney can be your friend too

If you just make-believe him!

Both shows stressed the importance of belonging. Note the line, "friendly neighbors there," in the Sesame Street theme. "Barney comes to play with us," starts off the final stanza of the imaginary dinosaur's theme. Both shows were about kids belonging and being together - even when they watched television in separate homes.

Each episode of these children's favorites wanted the children watching to feel that they were known, loved, and valued. No one was to be left out of the fun and learning. Everyone should feel like they belonged on the fictional Sesame Street or in Barney's imaginary world of friends.

Every human being enters this world with a longing to belong, to be connected relationally with other human beings. God designed us for family, friendship, and community. Shows like "Sesame Street" and "Barney and Friends" understood the human need to belong and sought to be as inclusive as possible through the means of television.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to understand that Christ's family, the church, is to be the purest and most inclusive of all communities. People who have no real connection can come together and thrive in a relationship together based on their common redemptive relationship with God through Jesus.

All who know Christ as Savior should feel known, loved, and valued by other Christ-followers. Our ultimate belonging begins with our relationship to Christ and extends to our relationships throughout His family. As Ephesians 2:19 says, we are all members of God's household, his family.

Are you actively engaging with other followers of Jesus to make them feel known, loved, and valued?

God calls on us to actively engage with other Christians, so we can belong together as God intended.


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