He gets us?

Everyone of faith seems to have an opinion on the “He Gets Us” ads during the Super Bowl. Some are enamored with the concept of reaching out with a message about Jesus to such a broad audience, something Christians don’t seem to be able to access as much in the United States as they once did.

Others question both the expense, somewhere around $100 million, and whether such a vast sum could have been put to better use. There is also the concern about who is funding this and what people will see if they go to the website the ad lead views to. Several sources report that the family which owns Hobby Lobby are among the main backers of the campaign. This family, and its company has become infamous for denial of vaccines, masks, female reproductive health, LGBTQ+ rights and dignity, and participation in the theft of biblical antiquities. They are associated with a brand of Christianity that is looking more and more like the Christian Nationalism. What if, people wonder, the messages of the ads, which promote care for the marginalized (including refugees), compromise, and relationship, are being used as a smokescreen for the getting people into churches that don’t really practice any of the things that these ideas that the ads preach?

I confess that, until this week, I have avoided these ads because of their main conceit—He, being Jesus, gets us. That is undeniable true. God knows exactly what it means to be human, with all of the emotion, excitement, and exquisitely mundane existence that entails. But I don’t believe that’s nearly as important for God, or for us as they why of all that. Why would God do that? Because of love. God loves us before Jesus dwelt among us. At the very moment that God’s hands touched the dirt to form us in the divine image it was an act borne of love. It is that love from which all else springs and that, above all else is the Good News that Jesus made manifest to us, and calls us to make manifest to the world.

The “He Gets Us” campaign lacks the gravity and effect that it could otherwise have because, in a world where information available, people see those who promote these fair words bear fruits that are bitter poison.

In the Gospels, Jesus commends those who go and do as closest to the kingdom. As Episcopalians, we’ve taken this to heart. We love the idea of letting our actions do the talking, and attracting people without have to preach at them. It would be easy, given this, to dismiss “He Gets Us” out of hand. But then there is Jesus who directed us to preach the Gospel—even us Episcopalians. If we are not ready to tell people what drives our actions, how they are a response to loving gifts that God has given us, most especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, then we are also failing to fulfill the request of Jesus, to help people understand what God wants, and to jumpstart people’s relationship with God and God’s people.

God, and Jesus, may get us, but I don’t think that was ever the question. How do we choose to respond to God’s unrelenting, fathomless love for us and the world, which Jesus shares? This is the question. It can’t be just words, and it can’t be just actions. It must be both. We must do the work of getting ready for God’s kingdom—bearing fruits like love, peace, patience, etc. And we must share the story to plant the seed that might one day bear fruit. It can only be both. I hope we get that.

—Fr. Jed Fox, Rector

Fr. Jed Fox with a cup of coffee.

Church of the Redeemer

Welcome to Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County, Washington. As you travel your road, go with friends walking the way of Jesus at Redeemer.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.