Worth a Visit
Life in ministry brings all sorts of responsibilities — one of the most important of which is visitation. Whether someone is housebound, hospitalized, in an assisted-living facility, grieving, or imprisoned, pastors are expected to visit, encourage, provide companionship, and lift up others through scripture and prayer.
These types of visitation are often bittersweet. While it is a joy to connect with those who are hurting, lonely, or struggling in some other way, it is difficult to see them facing these types of hardships.
Recently, I set aside some time to address these needs. It began with a funeral service for a member of my former church. It was an honor to share a tribute to this faithful servant while providing some comfort and even some levity for his grieving family and friends.
My next stop was an assisted-living facility where I stopped in to see three members of our church. Each visit lasted about 45 minutes. I was blessed to offer words of comfort, and I could see that each person appreciated the companionship because so often they spend hours, even days, alone in their room. In between my various stops, I encountered a couple walking together down a hallway. I tried not to eavesdrop as I followed behind, but I could tell from their conversation that each had lost a spouse and that both really enjoyed each other’s company.
Also that week, I stopped in to see a church member who had been hospitalized. Fortunately, it was not a life-threatening situation, but it was enough to cause some concern. Once again, the individual greatly appreciated the visit and seemed gratified to know that someone cared.
How does all of this relate to our faith journey? Well, Jesus made it clear that we are all called to reach out to the least among us. For it is there that we will truly find him. That is not meant in a judgmental way, but simply an acknowledgement of an individual’s circumstances.
Here’s what Jesus said about the situation in the Gospel of Matthew: “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left. “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’”
Let us never forget those who live on the margins — the downtrodden, the desperate. They may not look or sound like us. Their background may be completely different from ours, but they are children of God, and when we reach out to them, we will also encounter our Lord in all of his glory and splendor.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John
Oak Chapel UMC
4203 West Old Lincoln Way
Wooster, OH 44691
Serving God and Community