Thursday, January 13, 2011

Preaching, Papa, Nanny, what a week!

This time last week I was settling down after a day of hearing great preaching and enjoying a night of Kentucky awesomeness (especially the bluegrass).
Tonight as I continue to reflect on the Festival of Young Preachers that took place in Louisville, KY (Jan. 6-8) I also reflect on how I came to be at the Festival. If you read a couple of entries back you will see something very similar to what I said Friday night in worship as I spoke about my call to vocation. In this I did not mention one very important aspect of my call, that is my Grandfather, Papa. Papa passed away 7 years ago on Jan. 9. The day after the festival ended I remembered the man who influenced my faith more than anyone else.
You see Papa was the reason I became Presbyterian. Through his side of the family I am a 5th generation Presbyterian. It was Papa and my Grandma who made sure I was at church on Sunday mornings. It was Papa who would take me up to the choir loft and sit me on the edge letting me look out over the empty sanctuary in awe of the architecture and beauty of God's house.
It is Papa's choir cross that I wear (almost) every time I preach. It is the gentleness, kindness, humility, and love of Papa that showed me what it was to be Christ-like. It is Papa who would sit in the basement and let me sneak down the stairs to startle him and then hold a conversation with me no matter how young I was, treating me like an adult. It was Papa who taught me respect by example. It was Papa who taught me dedication and hard work.

So as I look back I remember that I was raised by a man with outstanding Christian character, teaching me by the way he lived. Loving me and it is he who would be proud of me this day.

Tonight I stand 8 hours from it being 1 year that my Great grandmother passed away. I was waking up at the exact time that she passed away. I was preparing to head to Louisville that afternoon to say goodbye...and I didn't make it. So when my great aunt and uncle asked me to put together and do her funeral that I humbly and fearfully took on the task. Recruiting the help of my Pastor at the time (to do all the official stuff) I picked hymns/songs, scriptures, wrote a homily, and put everything together. I stood before family and friends, grieving and broken, leading a service to remember and honor a woman who was gentle and loving. A woman who gave all that she could to the people she loved. A woman who was strong willed and soft spoken, fearless and fearful, loving and patient, funny and witty, hard working and peaceful.

And so I am who I am today because of these two wonderful people (and others too)...I am who I am because of where I've come from. I am who I am because God has created me and called me to be, and to love, and to serve.

Though I miss these two wonderful people more than words can express, though I sit here fighting back tears, though I sit here wondering what kind of emotions tomorrow will bring, I sit here knowing that God is good, that God has something in store for my life that is bigger than me. And I stand here excited. I stand here ready to live one day at a time to serve the Lord and the Lord's people. I stand here knowing that Nanny and Papa are proud of the things I am doing and that makes me happy. I miss them both, I love them both, and I can only hope that continue to remember the legacy they left behind and take it with me wherever I go.


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