Rector's Blog: I See God in You
Three years ago this week, I was waiting for a phone call.
My wife and I had just gotten back from visiting Ohio for the first time in our lives. We had flown to Cincinnati to interview at Redeemer and were now back in California waiting to hear about whether I’d be offered the job as Rector. We’d already decided we were all in. And the Search Committee -which was always thoughtful and deliberate in their communications – let me know they’d be calling me on Wednesday afternoon. So, I knew they would.
During one particularly intensive interview in Cincinnati, Committee member Hume Jamison looked at me and said, “Let’s talk about something really serious: If you move here, are you willing to root for the Reds and Bengals?”
I love that question. I love how much Redeemerites love their city. I love how much civic love, pride, and dedication I see every day in Cincinnati. Without hesitation, when Cincinnatians find out I moved here from Southern California, they’ll get this strange look on their face and say, “You moved here? Why?” and I’ll respond, “Don’t you love it here?”
“Of course I do!”
“What do you love about it?”
And immediately every Cincinnatian has their list. Y’all love your town. And then I say, “Why wouldn’t I love those things too?” It’s like you know how awesome your town is, but you’re always surprised when other people see how fantastic it is too. Redeemer is a little like that. Every person I meet at Redeemer loves their church, a lot – but they’re also always pleasantly surprised when someone else loves it too.
So, three years ago this week, there I was sitting outside my favorite Mexican restaurant, waiting for the phone call. I went online and found the exact Reds hat I would buy if I got the job. I put it in the virtual shopping cart. I did not buy it. I’m not superstitious, except when I am. And I waited. My phone rang. It was a 513 number. I took a deep breath and answered.
Search Committee head Jim Votaw and Vestry Senior Warden Cynthia Williams were on the other line, on speaker phone. They offered me the job. In my mind they asked me simultaneously – though it’s completely possible I’ve romanticized the whole thing. I said yes immediately. We talked a bit about details and exchanged pleasantries that I can barely remember. After we hung up, I called my wife. Then I called my bishop. Then I went online and bought that hat.
As we say in our Vision Statement, we want our community to have a sense of why Redeemer matters to us. This is not about bragging. This is not about being better than other places. It’s about this: You’re here because Jesus brought you here. Which means that your presence at Redeemer is meant to transform your life and bring you into deeper relationship with God and God’s creation. Your being part of this church is neither an accident nor a coincidence. You are here to make a difference, and you are here so this community can make a difference in you.
Jesus brought my family to Cincinnati and to Redeemer. I believe that every day, and it informs everything about what I give to this place – this church and this city. Redeemer matters to me because of the way you love one another, because of the way you love your church, because of the way you love your city. You matter to me because of the way you’ve embraced my family and made us part of you and yourselves part of us. Redeemer matters to me because it’s the community where I get to live into my faith and into my vocation. You matter to me because I see God in you. Every Day. I love you.
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