Tacos and Friendship
When I told my friend Brian I would be leaving Southern California and moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, he did not bring up our friendship, or the weather, or the church I served, or the relationships I had built in my years of ministry in that area. No, he went straight for the heart. He said, “You won’t survive in Cincinnati – where will you get good tacos?” Those who live here in the Queen City know this is both a low blow and an inaccuracy – there is legitimately phenomenal Mexican food (tacos, and otherwise) to be had here. But the sheer number of taco options in my old home was overwhelming – I had two amazing taquerias within a quarter mile of my house. I shared Brian’s concerns. But moved here anyway, hoping maybe Skyline Chili could replace tacos in my heart.
It did not.
Tacos are still king.
And while I really want to talk to you here about Jesus and the church and grace and gratitude, I feel required to stop at this point and let you know that Taqueria San Marcos in Norwood and Taqueria Cruz in Covington are the best taquerias in the area. I also love Mazunte, and probably eat there the most. And something wonderful is happening in Cincinnati right now: the proliferation of Mexican food trucks: I know of four all within a few minutes’ drive from my house. This is serious business for the DeVauls.
So it was one of the great joys of my five years (so far) of ministry in Cincinnati when we had the best taco truck in town parked in front of Church of the Redeemer last Friday. They served tacos and quesadillas to over 125 parishioners and friends. That’s right Los Cuñados, the taco truck that is usually parked at the BP station in Rookwood – on the corner of Madison and Edwards – now has my favorite tacos in Cincinnati. And that Friday night they were all ours. It was glorious.
Friends, this was simply a magical night. And the food was a big part of it, but honestly, I was overwhelmed with joy just for the opportunity to be together. I saw longtime parishioners next to people who have just shown up in the last couple months, friends and family, some who walked over, and others who came from West Chester and Evendale, all together. The feeling of love and affection was palpable across the front porch, into the narthex and through the cloister garden, as I watched people remember what it meant just to be church together.
We have, of course, been worshiping in person for over six months now, and have been in each other’s presence in meaningful ways. But on Friday we just enjoyed each other, with no liturgy, no agenda, plan of action, or purpose. Just tacos and friendship. I saw my friend Pete in person for the first time since March of 2020 and my heart was full to overflowing. You’ve heard me say it so many times before, but it keeps being true: Relationships are the heart of the Church of the Redeemer. And our relationships continue to be in a challenging place as we navigate our way forward together. But on Friday I got a glimpse of just how strong the connections are in this beloved community.
I saw tacos and friendship, and I remembered why I love my job so much, why I believe in Jesus, why this caring for this community is the work of a lifetime.
It’s a gift. It’s all a gift – this shared life, this call to live in community. It’s a gift. One of my colleagues showed up for the Block Party, and he recounted to me his experience like this: He said, “We walked up and someone greeted us, offered us some tickets, and said, ‘Take these tickets and they’ll become tacos.’” He laughed and said it was like a living sermon on grace.
The food, the friendship, the kindness, the music (from our excellent Banquet drummer and his jazz trio), the set up (by our amazing Sexton team, and organized by dynamite parishioner Barb Stephens), all overseen by our stellar Family Ministry team –God is so good. In the past year, you have heard me say more than once that we will never go back to normal, that we will only go forward to a new normal. We just saw a little piece of that new normal. It is filled with life and love.
If you missed this Block Party and you’re feeling all kinds of jealousy, don’t worry: There will be more. In the meantime, your presence and your participation in the ministries of the church is so important. You have a part to play in making us the center of grace that radiates the love of Jesus. If you’re looking for an immediate way to bless people, please don’t forget about our online donation of Thanksgiving Meals through Madisonville Education & Assistance Center – the deadline for that is this Sunday. And don’t forget to make your financial commitment to Church of the Redeemer for 2022 so that we can continue to foster and support this community we love so much. And, of course, if you’re just hungry and want some company you can call me and I’ll take you out for tacos.
Tags: Rector's Blog