Monday, March 9, 2009

Showing Up

A friend of mine who is an Orthodox priest keeps me on the email distribution list for his parish. This morning he sent this, which I thought was worth sharing:

A caring congregation is one that cares for one another and who actively seeks to help those in need. Currently we have three parishioners who are very ill. Are we reaching out to them as well as their families? Do we regularly pray for them? Have we visited them?

Visiting sick people who are at home or at the hospital is sometimes awkward. Very often we do not know what to say or we might be shy and do not want to go alone. This is very normal. However, if we take another person with us or if two couples want to go together, this will make the visit more enjoyable. Even Jesus sent out his disciples “two by two” to do ministry. Two people can share the burden, not just one! The actual visit does not have to be long. Many of my pastoral visits to the hospital are not more than a few minutes. The important thing is not the length of the time spent but that you showed up in the first place! Below is a short “how to” list regarding visiting someone at home or at the hospital.

1. Call ahead to make sure it is okay to visit. Sometimes people do not want to receive visitors. You can always say, “is there a better time to come?”
2. If you do not want to go alone on the visit ask someone else at Church; you can say, “I would like to visit Mrs. X, would you want to come along with me?” A good time to go is after Church on Sunday. That way you can leave Church and follow each other to the home or the hospital and then go right home afterwards.
3. Feel free to bring flowers, or candy, or even a small stuffed animal. People always like to receive small gifts; it brightens up their day. Stuffed animals are not just for children, adults like them too!
4. Don’t feel the need to talk only about “churchy things,” just talk about life. Most of my conversations are not specifically “churchy” in that respect. People just want to know that they are loved and people care about them.
5. You can say a prayer together, such as the Lord’s Prayer; nothing fancy, keep it simple.
6. As far as time is concerned usually you will know when the person is tired. You can say, “Well, we will have to go now, it was good seeing you. We are praying for you and we love you very much” or something to that effect. Again, it is not the length of time that matters, showing up is what is more important.


The Underground Pewster said...

Not everyone is suited for visiting the sick. Many are well suited, but need some training. And some are just plain good at it.

If your priest is interested in
helping train persons for this ministry, he might want to recommend some parishioners for the Community of Hope Program.

Chuck said...

Thanks for the link, Pewster. I will pass that on.

One of the reasons I appreciate Bill's note to his parishoners is its challenge to be available, even if just a few minutes with an expression of love and prayer.

I remember early on going to visit church friends in the hospital, Bible in arm, prepped to give some spiritual word of comfort. I cringe to think of that now. And there were other occasions (which I'm sure you and other readers have experienced) when the infirmed person turned out to be the minister, and I, the visitor, left feeling that I have been in the presence of one graced with a large measure of the Lord's strength.

Missy said...

I was very convicted about this matter during my Tonsil stint.
That was just an extremly minor surgery and recovery compared to those that have critical illnesses, and yet it got to be discouraging somedays when I felt like we didn't have any help or support.
Those are good reminders.