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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
Finding the sacred in everyday life
How to thank the one who taught you about Jesus
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About this blog
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
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Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.\x34
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By simplyfaithful
April 21, 2013 6:21 p.m.

Troy Hayes and my daddy, Bobby Gregory. Judging from Daddy's shirt, they must have been working on a car.

Troy Hayes and my daddy, Bobby Gregory. Judging from Daddy’s shirt, they must have been working on a car.



For as long as I can remember, Brother Troy has had heart trouble. But now, in just the last month, cancer and its treatments make it so he canít stand behind the pulpit and deliver a full sermon. I heard he sat down halfway through his talk on Easter and that more hymns were sung than normal.

Of course the small Oklahoma congregation understands. Of course they pray for his strength and comfort. Of course they offer support to the man who has officiated at their childrenís weddings and helped them say their earthly goodbyes.

But it feels like there should be something more Ė some proper way to thank the man who baptized you and then coaxed you to wade deeper, to grow stronger.

When I was about 10 I wrote these notes in my Bible, including mentioning which pastors baptized my family members.

When I was about 10 I wrote these notes in my Bible, including mentioning which pastors baptized my family members.



In the more than 20 years that I sat under his teaching, Iíve lost count of the times the Baptist preacher told us that the name on the church sign didnít matter. I donít care if the sign says Methodist or Lutheran or Pentecostal, heíd say. What matters is that they are preaching the Bible, that they are following Godís teachings.

Then, sometimes in the same sermon, heíd tell us not to just swallow his teachings whole. Donít just take my word for it. Study it yourselves. Pray about it.

Iíve always liked that about him, how he humbly points to God and to scripture Ė his true north. And I donít even have to ask. I know that hasnít changed in the years since I moved away.

His wife, Sister Betty, still teaches Sunday School. It was there in her classroom where my 7-year-old self fell in love with David and his psalms. Where I saw a re-enactment of Daniel in the lionsí den on an old-fashioned flannel board. Where I memorized most of the scriptures that guide me today.

I'm the middle angel, proclaiming the Good News to the shepherds in the corner.

I’m the middle angel, proclaiming the Good News to the shepherds in the corner.



All those lessons. All those sermons. Theyíve mattered in my life and in the lives of countless others. Iím in awe when I think about the influence of two faithful people in a tiny little town, and Iím struck by the far-reaching ripples of all people in ministry Ė be that behind a pulpit, in a classroom or mowing the lawn for a neighbor.

Thank you, Brother Troy. And you, too, Sister Betty. Thank you, all who teach us about Godís love.

Dearest readers, Brother Troy went to be with his Heavenly Father today. Many are mourning his passing. Will you join me in praying for them? †

No one preached a finer funeral than Brother Troy. There was just something indescribable about how he shared God’s love with those who were hurting. I’ll never forget what he said at Daddy’s funeral. He talked about faith, hope and love. He said faith and hope are realized in heaven, completed if you will, but love continues. There is no end, no death for love.

Much love to you, Brother Troy, and welcome home.



 

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