How do you pray?

When you said, “I don’t know how to pray.”
I thought:

Sometimes I pray with my eyes closed, watching the images of my imagination work their way across the part of my brain I am trying to keep perfectly still;
prayer-tearsSometimes I pray as the aroma of coffee wafts its way into my thinking senses;

Sometimes I pray with tears;

Occasionally, I pray with a soft pillow under my head and my beloved held in my arms;

Sometimes I pray with my feet propped up on my desk and a pen in my hand;

At times, I pray with words…but mostly not;

Sometimes as I pray I am surrounded by music that fills in the blank spaces and teases me toward God – Katy Perry does a fabulous job but Jewell is better;

Sometimes as I pray I laugh, well, I giggle a little – the absurdity overcomes me at times;

Occasionally the bitter sting of coffee goes across my tongue even as words to the Almighty find their way out;

Sometimes I pray with open eyes, glancing at the miracle of a new life, the wisdom held by the binding of a book, the serenity of a sleeping cat, or the soothing color of a glass of wine;

At times my prayers run over with thankfulness or fear – usually in equal measure;

prayerThere are those rare and precious moments when my mind and my surrounding conspire in their quiet and I know I must be praying.

I know some people say they don’t know how to pray.

Problem is…I don’t know how not to.

Clara “Greer” Kincaid – A Living Servant

Clara “Greer” Kincaid

Greer Kincaid was released from the hospital several weeks after being hit by a truck as she crossed Route 61 on her way to take one of her many daily strolls. Not many people survive getting hit by a truck. I only have known one person over seventy-five to have done so – and that was Greer.

I could tell you – in a funny and entertaining way – I hope, of the way that this post “pedestrian-versus-pick-up-septuagenarian” actually walked faster than me up Johnson Branch hollow. However, that story is not what I want to remember about Greer.

I could also tell you about – in an equally entertaining and humorous manner – of the time Greer mistook a couple of bear cubs for “big puppies” on one of those walks. But yet again, that is not what I really want to remember.

I can’t forget those things because they are very much a part of who this lady is in God’s Kingdom. She is a plucky, lucky, hard-working, grace filled, able to laugh at herself kind of servant. But the key word in story I would tell about Greer is that she is a servant.

I remember more vividly, the many times she would walk to my neighbor across the street and knock on the door until two little boys showed up in clothes she had bought them for church. She would walk them to church. She would give them a treat. She would often send those same boys home with some food. Greer is a servant.

I remember more clearly the numerous occasions that Greer would stop at another neighbor’s house – a house where someone lived who wasn’t that respected in the community. The disrespect came from some habits involving the imbibing of certain liquids. Greer didn’t pay much attention to all that. She stopped and chatted and often times shared from her garden or her canning with this person. Greer is a servant.

I will never forget the day she stopped by the parsonage with a bag of zucchini, a recipe for zucchini bread and instructions on freezing it. She also had a bag with two beautiful dresses for my daughter, Leslie. The bag with the dresses included matching tights and shoes. Greer said, “I don’t get to shop for little girls all that often. I hope you don’t mind.” Mind? She served this pastor who struggled as a single Dad to make sure his daughter was well dressed. She served as she gave this single man tools that continue to serve him well in the kitchen. Greer is a servant.

If there is a person in Kincaid who was untouched by Greer Kincaid’s giving, servant heart, it is simply because she hadn’t met them.

However, I am sure that is okay because I mean it when I say that she IS a servant. As a person of the Resurrection, I know that she lives on and I have no doubt what she is doing even this day. She’s busy. She is busy serving someone.

 

Clara Kincaid, known mainly as Greer to her fellow church members, passed away earlier this year. She was over 100 years old and a blessing. The last time I was with her, she heard my voice greeting her and she said, “That’s my Scott! Oh, I’d know that voice anywhere!” 

I was asked to be present at her Memorial to be held this weekend but cannot, so I have sent this tribute to be read. Like any set of words, it doesn’t come close to capturing who she is and what she meant to me. But it will do. It will do.

Sacred Secrets…Scared People…Scarred Hope

Some observations and reflections of a United Methodist pastor during the Lenten journey.

 

And yes…I get the irony of reflecting and judging…it’s never lost on me.

 

 

 

 

In a community that proclaims there is a Light brighter than any darkness that exists in the world, there remains a culture a secrets. I am no stranger to its perpetuation and continuation.

We cannot talk about ourselves – the selves Jesus knows and loves – our bare and naked souls – because others are always watching, always listening. And yes, some of them take notes.

We cannot even whisper about the God-felt plans and dreams we have for our flock because it may upset those who have power.

We cannot dare to mention the call change, for there are sheep for which we care that will become unsettled and move themselves to another community.

Good as we are at keeping secrets, we breed a herd that knows all too well how to keep the lid upon the Spirit. The flock that we serve often hid their own selves away in their lives, their families, their busy-ness. The leaders who stand both beside and above us in this mixed up world of pastor/supervisor dare not speak of their plans as well, but cloak them – just like me – in nuanced words and Sacred Secrets.

 

Why do we, the people of the Light of the universe persist in living so much of our faith life in secret? In a word – scared.

That’s who we really are so much of the time – scared, sacred secret keeps. So sacred, we ignore the nightmare that is us, we, me and I as well as the daybreak open sharing would bring and force ourselves back into the safety of that which we know best and can control…back into the darkness…back to sleep. Scared People.

As I travel through this Lenten season I think of myself, those I serve, and those who lead me and I see us all as the scared, sacred secret keepers that we are. And I pray. And I remember.

 

There is one who faced a terrible death. His life would be viewed as wasted. His dreams for people would be seen as undermining authority. His hopes for those around him – all of those around him – would be viewed as revolutionary. And he knew he would die.

And yet…he did not keep this future a secret from those who followed. He spoke freely of the future that awaited him. He would be handed over. They would scatter. He would be tried. They would betray. He would be beaten, pierced and rejected at his death.
But he would come back. He would return. He would stand before us all with scarred wrists, feet and side. He would offer us Scarred Hope.

With the One that we follow, there are no Sacred Secrets. He chose not be a Scared Person. He comes even now to offer us Scarred Hope.

“Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14 NRSVA