I don't know what it was about the scene that made it so funny. As I walked in to "confront" the group of young teens and pre-teens who routinely take over my office after the 11am service, it was just hilarious to see one of them stretched back in my desk chair, feet up on my desk, with his ever mischievous grin on his face. Others were either in the midst of hiding my stuff (like my coffee pods, white board markers, novelty buttons...) or finishing the chocolate from the usually bottomless chocolate bowl on my desk. I tried my hardest to give an annoyed face, but they know me far too well and this only caused the laughter to increase.
The chocolate bowl was something I introduced to my desk the very first week I was on staff, along with the Keurig machine and a desktop bowling set. My original rationale was simple: my office should be inviting and warm... and maybe just a little bit fun. Then I started roaming the halls on Sunday mornings to say hi to people and a certain group of grade 5 boys discovered that it was fun to attack me when I wasn't looking as I ventured into the main sunday school room. Soon these "attacks" moved to the hallways and soon in looking into my office they discovered the chocolate bowl on the desk. I think it was somewhere around the time they were in grade 6 that they began appearing on stage as soon as the service ended asking permission to go into my office for a chocolate, and soon enough I'd just give them my keys if i was busy on stage... and well... the party has continued.
Here's the thing... it's not about chocolate. It's about trust and care, and it really gets to the point of a core value of mine - sharing the love of Christ through meaningful relationships. A meaningful relationship includes the trust that I can hand a 13 year old my keys and know they won't be used for wrong, or that I can allow a group of students to hide stuff all over my office knowing that they respect the rules of which drawers not to go into... Now let's face it... this is important for all ages. There are almost as many adults as kids who stop in for a chocolate... or sometimes a cup of quality coffee, and the most important part is the conversation as those little things are enjoyed. However, there are formative years when trust begins, and when questions of faith begin to percolate in the brain, and it is very important that these young friends know that as their pastor not only do I care about them as friends, but that they can trust me when those questions come and they need some help finding the answers.
1 Corinthians 13:13 "Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love."