The Story of Bill
I swear this story is true – witnessed it with my own eyes while at university many years ago. You get to decide what reflection the story might hold for us. But for the purposes here, I’ll just call it … The Story of Bill ...
His name is Bill. He has blue-streaked, spiky hair; wears a T-shirt all the time, wrinkled but clean, I think; wears jeans and sandals mostly. This has literally been his wardrobe for his entire four years of university.
He is very, very bright. He became ‘interested’ in spirituality while attending university. Across the street from the campus is what some might call a well-heeled, staunch, and very not-so-progressive church. However, over time they have expressed an interest in developing a ministry to the students, but are not sure where or how to even begin.
Bill had checked out other churches in his quest, but on this day he had decided to go to this church. He walked in with open sandals, jeans, his T-shirt and his interesting hair. He arrived late - the service had already started and Bill started down the aisle, looking for a seat. The church, for some unusual reason, was quite full on that day. Bill headed to the front of the church.
By now people are looking and feeling a bit uncomfortable ... 'You'd think that someone going to church would dress a little more appropriately' many were thinking ... but no one said a word. (They didn’t have to.)
As Bill got closer and closer to the pulpit and the choir area, he looks back over the congregation and can’t locate a seat so, just like what would happen at the university, he squats down right on the carpet looking up at the minister. The minister is pretending that nothing unusual is happening at all.
This had never happened in this church before! By now, the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. This is different and all the attention is being swept up as most of the eyes are looking towards Bill, who is quite unaware of the stir he has made, however unintentional.
It is about this time the minister notices that, from way at the back of the church, an usher is slowly making his way to the front towards Bill. Now the usher is in his eighties, has silver-grey hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A good, stern looking man - very elegant, very dignified, very proper and, from past experience, known as not one to be messed with.
He walks with his cane towards Bill, who is oblivious to the whole drama, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can't blame the usher for being annoyed. What’s he going to do? How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some kid on the floor? There's just no respect anymore!"
It took a long time for the usher (let’s call him Albert) to reach Bill. The church is completely silent now. You could hear a pin drop ... that is, except for the clicking of the usher's cane hitting the floor as he made his way to the front. You can’t make this stuff up – pure drama!
All eyes are focused on the usher and what is to happen; everyone has stopped breathing ... people are holding their breath. And the congregation is thinking, "What will the minister do?"
And then, all of sudden, the people see this elderly man, Albert the usher, drop his cane on the floor with a loud rattle ... and ... with great difficulty, lower himself to the floor, sitting down next to Bill to worship with him so he won't be alone.
Smiles break out all around, and there is a murmur around the church. When the minister begins again he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."