Day One: Visitor
Yesterday I visited a friend in hospice. It has been more than one year since I’ve made any hospital calls as a pastor. Due to Covid19…
The pandemic has forced our hands to be creative with our acts of compassion. Last spring, I visited this same friend in his home shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. We gathered in a circle holding hands, wearing masks, and asking God to intervene.
I have been an avid supporter of taking the necessary precautions during this season. But I have discovered there are very few hard and fast rules in ministry. In the hospital, Red rules are non-negotiable. Blue rules have wiggle room based on context. My apologies to my medical friends and my crude definitions. However, in the church, we often label Blue rules as Red and Red rules as Blue.
In a year like this one, we do a disservice to everyone when we utter the words “we’ve never done it like this before” or “we’ve always done it this way”. Those who have faired well have taken time to identify the new Red rules and the new Blue rules. We learned to make sidewalk visits and how to send video messages. We took up the art of letter writing and postcards. And, when necessary, we stood in a circle wearing masks, praying for God to intervene, and promising one another that we would wash our hands.
Hospital visits have never been my strength. It’s even more difficult when you are out of practice. On Sundays, I have notes and I’ve planned what to say in my message. In the hospital, I have to trust that words are not important and presence counts twice.
In this Lenten season, let presence count twice. Be present in the brief moments when you can be together. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but it will be life-transforming. And my suggestion is that you make it a new Red rule.
For me your presence in a hospital with a name hard to spell led me back to church and a stronger relationship with God. Your presence matters once, twice, thrice, quarter, quince. Sence, Septence, and more.