It was a cool October Sunday morning in Goshen, Indiana. The congregation of Beulah Missionary Church were lifting their voices high above the sanctuary ceiling. “Good morning everyone,” Pastor Kent Boe said as he took the podium. “Just a few announcements today, for those of you that are new to our church, we will be having a meet and greet event after the sermon. Coffee and donuts will be provided, and you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself to other members of the church.”
“I might just go for the free donuts,” Nick snickered silently.
“Secondly, I’d like to remind all of you about our upcoming Christmas play titled, Jesus, My Navigator. The play will debut on Friday, December 16th and will end on Sunday, December 18th. For those interested in being a part of the play there will be a meeting after the service in The Youth Center,” Pastor Boe informed.
“Hey Jesse, isn’t your girl Jasmine going to be in that?” Sean Sarlon asked nudging his buddy.
“Shut up Sean,” Jesse Sterling replied.
“Hey that’s right. You going to ask her out after service today Jess?” Nick asked.
“We’re at church Nick, this hardly seems like the time or place,” Jesse answered with a sarcastic tone.
“What’s wrong Jesse? Afraid God will smite you with a bolt of embarrassment,” Sean asked sarcastically, sharing a laugh with Nick.
“Shhh, you boys are being incredibly disrespectful,” an older lady in front of them scolded.
“…and finally, there will be a luncheon held in the children’s gym after service today. They’re telling me steak and lobster is on the menu today,” Pastor Boe jested. “I now leave you in the capable hands of Pastor Bennet as he leads us in worship,” Pastor Poe said dismissing himself from the podium.
After the service, Jesse walked into the lobby and met up with Pastor Boe, “That sermon was quite insightful pastor,” Jesse complimented.
Pastor Boe took Jesse’s hand and shook it, “Why, thank you son. How are your studies at Ohio State going?” Pastor Boe asked.
“I’m getting straight A’s right now pastor,” Jesse said.
“Excellent. So, when will you be moving to Columbus?” Pastor Boe asked.
Pastor Boe was never comfortable with the idea of Jesse moving so far away from home just to go to school. Pastor Boe also never had much love for Jesse’s father, especially after Jesse’s parents divorced, so the idea of Jesse spending a significant amount of time with his father did not sit well with Pastor Boe.
“I’ll probably wait another year or so before I move to Columbus,” Jesse answered.
“Now, where will you be staying while you go to school there?” Pastor Boe asked.
“With my father and step-mom Kate,” Jesse replied. Jesse could see that this answer troubled the pastor deeply, it was written all over the pastor’s face.
“You sure that’s a good idea Jesse? Don’t they have campus housing?” Pastor Boe asked.
“Well, campus housing costs money, and since I won’t have a job when I move, there it would be kind of hard to live on campus,” Jesse said. “Do you have a problem with me living with my father?” Jesse asked knowing full well the answer to this question.
“I just want to make sure you’re well taken care of son, in both spirit and emotion,” Pastor Boe answered. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get to this meet and greet. Have a blessed day Jesse,” Pastor Boe said dismissing himself.
“C’mon Jess we’re hungry!” Jesse heard Nick call from down the hall.
“Coming!” Jesse called back feeling a sense of loneliness after his conversation with the pastor.
Jesse and his friends quickly made their way to the children’s gym to be the first in the lunch line. “Aw man, the lines all the way out the door,” Nick said with a sigh.
“So, what were you and Pastor Boe talking about?” Sean asked.
“Oh… uh… nothing,” Jesse said avoiding the subject,”
“C’mon Jess, I know you better than that. He was asking you about moving to Ohio, wasn’t he?” Sean asked.
“Yeah,” Jesse replied irritated.
“Seriously? They’re having vegetable lasagna for lunch?” Jesse heard Nick ask as he gagged in the background.
“Jesse listen to me, don’t listen to that old man. We both know the only reason he doesn’t want you to go is because he doesn’t like your dad,” Sean said.
“Yeah, I know,” Jesse agreed.
“….and if you want to become a psychologist, you’ve told me again and again that Ohio State has one of the best psych programs around. Not only that, but it will give you a chance to spend more time with your dad,” Sean continued.
“Yeah, you’re right Sean,” Jesse said feeling a sudden burst of encouragement.
“Alright, Jesse I’m not waiting around on these geezers all day long let’s hit up that pizza shop down the street from your place,” Nick said as he walked past Jesse and Sean.
“Patience is a virtue, however clearly it is not your virtue,” Jesse said wryly finally acknowledging Nick.
Jesse and Sean both laughed, “Pizza sounds great. Don’t you know the guy that owns that place Jess?”
“You mean Papa Ed’s?” Jesse asked
“Yeah that place,” Sean answered.
“Yeah, he’s been a good family friend for years,” Jesse answered. Ed O’Ryan or Papa Ed, as he had become known to the town, once served on the Jefferson Township Fire Department with Jesse’s dad for years. They both ended up leaving the fire department because they got fed up with the politics the fire service had become. Ed went on to open a pizzeria, and Jesse’s dad resumed his life long career of being a construction superintendent for Salt Construction.
–By Alex Young