The Gospel According to Leslie Knope
One of my favorite television shows is Parks and Recreation. Filmed in “mockumentary” style, the show follows the local government of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, an employee in the Parks and Recreation department with big political dreams. She drives everyone mad with her enthusiasm, yet her co-workers can’t help but love her.If there were one sentence to summarize Leslie Knope, it would be the following: She LOVES Pawnee, Indiana.
In the season 5 premiere, Leslie sets a lofty goal to clean the Pawnee River. She has trouble acquiring grants and financial support. Discouragement tries to creep in as doors close in her face, but Leslie Knope says “nope!” She calls a press conference and announces that every Saturday from 8AM to 10AM she will clean the Pawnee River herself, and anyone who wants to help her is welcome to come. Clad in knee-high mud boots and her spirit of determination, Leslie shows her town in her actions how much she cares. The dozen onlookers at the press conference applaud and follow her into the river.
“So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
— Luke 22:27 (Common English Bible)
I love the way Jesus talks about leadership: beginning not with power but with service. Change began on the Pawnee River when Leslie stepped into the mud and invited everyone else to join her. She was not putting on a show. She acted out of love for her community.
May we be a people who not only look for the rivers that need cleaning. May we also be a people who go and clean them.
all good things to each of you,
Lectionary for Sunday, June 2, 2019