By Rev. DJ del Rosario | Senior Pastor at Bothell United Methodist Church
I’m from Seattle and I’m a sports fan. With the exception of the Seahawks recent success in football, being a Seattle fan for the last decade has meant that we Seattleites have learned to be patient. We lost our basketball team, the Seattle SuperSonics, my beloved Huskies are perennial up and comers without ever really contending and the Seattle Mariners have the distinct honor of breaking my heart every season.
For all you baseball fans, my beloved home team has a new player from the New York Yankees; a player named Robinson Cano. Cano left the Yankees for a 10-year 240 million dollar contract. Recently, the Mariners visited New York for the first time since Cano left. As you might imagine, many New York fans were looking forward to the opportunity to boo their former star. Please click HERE to watch a clip from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. In this video, Fallon’s crew set up a booth in New York to give the fans a chance to boo Robinson Cano before they played.
I find this video compelling. I love that even some of the most passionate Yankee fans would quickly change their attitude once they talked to Cano face to face. Without fail, each person shook his hand. Some fans still had choice words to share, but each person looked him in the eye and shook his hand. In the video, Cano thanked each person for booing him. I believe that Cano was authentic as he interacted with each person. I’m sure he could have guessed how people would react to him. It must not have been easy to walk out from the cardboard cutout of himself knowing how people “spoke” to him when they thought they were booing a facsimile of him.
[quote_box_right]”It’s easy to treat a person poorly when we see them from a distance… The human element changes everything.”[/quote_box_right]It’s easy to treat a person poorly when we see them from a distance, or when we picture them as no more than a cardboard image. It’s a completely different thing to be face-to-face with someone. The difference is even greater when you get to know someone. The human element changes everything.
Friends, I don’t know how to address all the political and theological tension in the United Methodist Church today. On my best days, I find myself on my knees praying for my friends and those who might consider me their enemy. I know that God’s grace is more than sufficient for me and for the Church universal. I know I am capable of being both overly confident and in the same breath self-deprecating. I also know that the church is about me and it’s also not about me at all. Lately my prayers for the United Methodist Church are that we treat one another less and less like cardboard cutouts. We run the risk of speaking strongly when we don’t have the luxury of truly being in one another’s presence. We run the risk of doing this on videos, letters and certainly through social media.
We also have the chance to step out shake a person’s hand, look she/he in the face and acknowledge the sacredness of one another. My hope is that when we find ourselves in the sacred presence of one another, in our communities, churches, Annual Conference, General Conference and through Social Media…that we acknowledge the sacredness of one another and see beyond the cardboard cutout.
I’m a work in progress, we as the church are a work in progress and I am grateful for that.
Rev. DJ del Rosario (@pastordj) met his best friend and wife Elaine in seminary. They have three amazing daughters Sage, and twins Hazel and Scarlett. DJ is the Senior Pastor at Bothell UMC in Bothell, WA.
Image by Flickr user Richard Masoner. Used under Creative Commons License. Cropped from original.