An instant change in attitude

By Ben Crismon Special Contributor A few months ago I made a conscious decision to do something that I thought signified my entry into full adulthood. I was already happily married, blessed with a daughter, and the pastor of a congregation. There was still one thing I needed to accomplish to become a “real adult”: I needed to start watching a late night television program. Having never watched Letterman or Leno, I didn’t really know where to start. But when I heard Jimmy Fallon was going to take over “The Tonight Show,” I thought it would be a great time to enter into the arena of watching late night TV. Since Fallon started hosting, I have not missed a show (although I do record them and watch the next evening, because who can stay up past 10:30 with a 9-month-old child?). Jimmy Fallon often has amazing sketches with his guests, allowing them to show their true personality and have fun. But recently, he did a sketch with Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano that I thought was truly phenomenal. If you haven’t kept up with baseball lately, here’s the short version of the story: Cano was a former New York Yankee who left in the off-season to get a bigger contract. Many Yankee fans felt jilted by his departure. Fallon capitalized on the fans’ sentiments as the basis for a sketch, which you can now find archived on both YouTube and nbc.com. Upon Cano’s first return to New York to play the Yankees, Fallon asked random Yankee fans on the street if they were going to “boo” Cano as he came to the plate. Of course, they were more than willing. He then invited them to “boo” at a cardboard picture of Cano that he had set up on the sidewalk. Little did they know that Cano himself was behind the screen. Their reactions are priceless, first so full of disdain and anger, but just a moment later welcoming Cano and apologizing for their actions. From shouts of rage to hugs of praise in just one second. As I watched this scene play out several times with different Yankees fans, I couldn’t help but think about our lives as Christians. How willing are we to speak words of negativity and hate behind each other’s backs, words we would never dare speak to each other’s faces? How often do we fall into a group mentality and join the “boos” of the crowd, but if left one-on-one with the enemy, we would be nothing but kind and cordial? Instead of “speaking the truth in love” as Paul urges us to do in Ephesians, we speak about and around, instead of to, each other. We join in negativity without ever understanding the enemy. God wants more from us. God wants our attitudes to change instantly—to see the enemy step out from behind the screen, and to engage in conversation and reconciliation. God’s spirit will be with us as we meet again. So think twice before you “boo” at your next sporting event, unless you would do it to the athlete’s face. And think twice about your words, and whether or not you would be comfortable having them said to everyone. God wants us to be a people of grace and love, in word and deed. We can all work on this together. The Rev. Crismon serves as pastor of White Hall UMC. A version of this commentary originally appeared on his blog, brotherbencrismon.wordpress.com.