About sixteen years ago I befriended a child that was attending the Church I was leading at the time. It would be just as accurate to say that she befriended me. No matter how you look at it, we became friends.
At first it was about making sure she had connections in the Church community so that she would have a wide group of people, young and old, that she could rely on for support, friendship and wisdom. She participated in the Sunday School, eventually teaching the kids that were just a few years (or months) younger than her. Of course she joined the youth group, the choir and just about everything else she had the time for.
One day I announced in Church that I would give a bible to anyone who wanted one. It would be a fresh, new bible and one written in modern English. The bible would be absolutely free, but it carried with it only one condition, the person who wanted the bible would be expected to read it. This young girl (a teenager by this time) asked for a bible. And she read it, from start to finish! I knew that she read it because every day she would e-mail me questions about what she was reading. Every day I did my best to answer her questions.
After she finished the bible she continued to ask questions about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, worship and all sorts of other things. Sometimes the questions were difficult to answer and more than once I responded with a simple, “I don’t know.” Sometimes, I am sure she didn’t like my answers. But, I have learned a lot from her questions and from the friendship we have. She has been a blessing to me.
In fact, earlier this year I had the truly joyful experiencing of presenting her to the Bishop at her ordination as a deacon of the Church. This morning I have the honour of preaching at a service of Celebration of New Ministry in the Parish of Three Harbours’, where the Reverend Rebecca Sample is being installed as the incumbent. That is where I am this morning.