As a way of introducing myself I’d like to share a story with you.
Last week I met with Dirk Vrielink at Tim Hortons to work out some of the details of my calling to the church. Ten minutes into our conversation, a police officer stepped up to our table. As soon as I saw the officer I pointed to Dirk and said, “It was him!” The officer knew Dirk from the school Dirk works at. Then Dirk introduced me, “This is John, my pastor.”
After we shook hands, I told the officer that I really appreciated the work he did. I told him about how I’d preached a sermon on the work of a police officer — interviewing 4 Calgary Police Service officers as part of my research and also doing an interview with the Calgary Herald — and gained a new sense of gratitude for officers who — in a God-like way — run toward the danger and whose work keeps crime in check so that the rest of us can have the space to live in security and freedom. I looked the officer in the eye and said, “Where would our city be without the work you do? Thanks.”
Before he could say anything a five-year-old girl ran up to him and asked if she could give him a hug. Surprised, he looked over at her parents and asked if that would be okay and they eagerly nodded. After the hug the officer said, “That doesn’t happen very often!” He asked about the denomination of my church and after I explained that I was in transition we spoke briefly about his faith background. After a quick goodbye he moved on to order his coffee.
I turned to Dirk and apologized for breaking into “sermon mode” (but I wasn’t sorry). Neither was Dirk. For both of us this was a bit of a God-moment. I told Dirk that this is the kind of interaction that is indicative of the kind of church we’re going to be; a faith community that names God’s already-there presence in all things.
Driving home from the meeting I thought about how perfect that little series of events was. A police offer was deservedly thanked for his work — theologically and via a hug — and Dirk and I got to experience our first church outreach opportunity together.
My hope and dream is that our faith community will be filled with people who experience these kinds of stories all the time.
So, this is who I am. I see God in all things; at work, in relationships, in family, art, sport, politics, the economy, nature and so much more. I believe that our world belongs to God and that all things hold together in Christ. And I believe that naming God’s already-there presence in the world is a beautiful and compelling way to be God’s witness.