Every now and then you get to witness a beautiful moment, something simple that captures what life is all about.
This morning during our church service, a 12 year old young man got up to give a short talk in front of the congregation. (At our church, the members are assigned to give talks each week, instead of one pastor giving a weekly sermon. Generally 3 people speak each week, including one youth.) When this boy stood up at the pulpit, his nerves got the better of him. Standing in front of over a hundred people can be nerve-wracking for an adult, so I always admire when the teens are willing to stand up and express their personal thoughts in front of so many.
The young man stood there, staring, and everyone stared back. And then the Bishop (leader of our congregation) rose to his feet and came to stand beside this boy. Now, just to give a quick picture of our current Bishop, he is a self-admitted huge jokester. His youth was not spent in serious study of all things spiritual. He is young and has a young family. His enthusiasm pours out from his infectious smile. He is not what you would typically think of as a leader of a church. And it's a lay ministry, which means while he serves in this position for 5-7 years, he does not get paid. In fact, he serves while maintaining his own job elsewhere.
So there stood Bishop beside boy. A couple attempts were made by the Bishop to help the boy read from the shaking paper in front of him, to no avail. So instead, the Bishop turned the boy to face him, instead of staring out at the congregation, and began a simple conversation. He asked the young man about recent spiritual experiences, about a trip all the youth had taken, about what he had learned while on the trip. He asked him what his mother had taught him and how he felt about what he knew. The microphone caught snatches of their conversation and delivered it throughout the chapel. After a few minutes, they each took their seats.
The gesture of the bishop was one of simple compassion. There was no sense of trying to "save" the boy or the talk, or step in because of embarrassment. There was just the love of a bishop for one of his flock, of helping someone grow in their faith. It was beautiful.