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Friday, March 23, 2012

Authority Figures: Pastors, Scene 2

     “We’d be happy to have you visit our Sunday morning service, if your parents give you permission, but Confirmation Class is for the children to learn about our church. They’ll become members at the conclusion of the course.” Well, I did visit a few churches of the different traditional denominations, but what I really wanted was to be in a class where I could ask questions and learn things about God. I was too old for the usual Sunday School classes and too young for the youth groups. Besides, those things had lessons designed already. I would just keep looking. (I should insert here that the fundamental and charismatic/Pentecostal groups were not on my list because, at 13, I was afraid of them. They just seemed too aggressive for me at that time. It would be seven more years before I learned what I had missed excluding these folks.)

     “Welcome to our class,” Pastor Sanders* said in response to my introduction. I had been close friends with one of the kids taking the class since I was nine, so I just went with her to Saturday Confirmation Class. Perhaps, my error had been in asking permission of the other pastors first. I would act like I belonged there and see what happened. Their course lasted for a long time, not just a couple of months, so there was bound to be mention of more than just church stuff, right? How much could you really cram into youngsters about church rules, councils, and leadership issues? No, there would be talk of the Bible and God if I just persevered.

     “I’m glad to meet you, Sir. I can’t join your church but may I still come to the class?” Pastor Sanders was smiling as he took my hand. He looked old to me but was probably in his 50’s.

     “Of course, you may come any Saturday you’d like. You can sit there with your friend.” I really liked the warmth and friendliness of the pastor. He reminded me of a jolly old guy when he laughed, and he did that a lot when the kids tried to answer his questions. None of us knew much in the beginning.

     Riding my bike across town each Saturday, I was often early for class. My mother’s motto was, and still is, “Leave early because you never know what might happen on the way.” I wasn’t often the only one waiting for class to begin; but, if I was, I’d take the opportunity to ask some of my questions. My perseverance was paying off. I’d, occasionally, show Pastor Sanders a poem I had written, using something I had learned about God or the Bible. He always liked my poems.

     “Sojourner, would you write a Mothers Day poem I could read in church? It will be in two weeks and I know the congregation would like to hear one of your poems as much as I would.” Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Pastor Sanders wanted to read a poem I’d write in church? I was so excited, I could hardly think as I took pencil in hand.

     The next Saturday I presented my poem to him. To my great horror, he read it to the whole class. My face was burning and glowing red from my neck to my forehead. I thought I’d throw up. It was one thing to read my poem in church but to my own friends? No, not here! Of course everyone laughed; they were 13, after all. What did he expect? Once pastor Sanders had restored order in the class, he declared that it was one of the prettiest poems he’d ever read; he’d be proud to read it to the mothers for the service.

     “Sojourner, we won’t have class next Saturday but would you be available to help me wash the car?” I always washed our car so why not? He was an old guy so maybe he did need a little help with the waxing once the soap had been rinsed off. I’d have to ask my mother but, since Pastor Sanders had let me sit in the class, I was sure she would let me do him this favor. That’s when I discovered things are not always what they seem.

                                                                      *Name has been changed.

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