One of the calls to ministry that I recently have mixed feelings about is visiting homebound people. Perhaps it is the awesome responsibility of it. I realize that of the many calls a pastor answers visiting is one of the absolutely most important ones. It also happens to be a task that when I am in the midst of it, is not a task at all. In fact, it almost feels silly to be paid to do something that seems to bring so much happiness to the recipients, and such a feeling of contentment to me.
I always find that at the end of an afternoon of visiting I understand once again the gift of being a small church pastor, of being able to deliver some comfort.
The most important thing I am asked to do, I think, is to demonstrate the accepting and nonjudgmental love of Jesus while building relationships with the people in the congregations I serve, and also outside of these congregations. Relationships are built by a simple visit. When a member of the church I haven’t seen on Sunday for sometime or in some cases, haven’t ever even seen in church, finds himself in the hospital, and while registering has listed one of my two churches as his home church, I receive the phone call from the hospital about our member as a call directly from God to get busy with this one. And the visit that follows is always, always received with such gratitude. Invariably, as I end our visit with a prayer for God’s presence and safekeeping, the person I am visiting cries real tears at being reminded that he isn’t alone at all, and is loved and cared for. This is the very best gift of all.