Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Looong, but Blessed Day

One of the great joys of pastoral ministry is being able to deliver the Lord's Gifts to His children who are not able to attend the Divine Service.  These beloved ones are prevented from attending for a variety of reasons, but whatever physical or mental ailments they're suffering, the real tragedy for them is that they're not able to come to Church.  "I miss being able to come to Church" and "I wish I was able to make it there on Sundays" are common sentiments they share with me.  They are genuinely saddened that they are not able to come.  They miss it.  They would be there if they could be. 

What a blessing it is, then, for them to have Church brought to them by their pastor.  It doesn't take the sadness and regret they feel completely away.  They still wish they were able to come.  But, their faces light up when they see me walk in the room, and it is not because they're thrilled to see my goofy mug, but rather because they know that I bring with me Christ and His Gifts.  I'd like to think that they're happy to see me, too, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the object of their true joy are the Gifts I bring to them.   

But, if it is a blessing for them, it is just as much so for the pastor.  I admit that I often forget what a blessing it is for me to visit these beloved brothers and sisters who are shut-in or hospitalized.  There are times when the Old Adam in me sees this as a chore.  How many times have I caught myself saying, "I have to get my visits done"?  How pitiful!  Lord, have mercy!  It should always be, "I get to go out and visit these beloved ones and deliver unto them the Gifts they desire and need."  Of course, that always gets corrected, for it never fails that, no matter how busy I am, and no matter how much the Old Adam in me tries to convince me that it's a chore I'd rather not do, when I do go out and do these visits, it is always pure joy and blessing indeed.

So, today was a day of joy and blessing for me, as I was privileged to begin the day by teaching Bible Study (and we all got to use our new TLSB's as we finished our study of Leviticus - on to Romans next Thursday), continued by meeting with my wonderful secretary to finalize things for Sunday, went out for a tasty lunch (steak fajitas at the local Mexican restaurant) with someone I love dearly, and then spent the rest of the day and early evening traveling to and fro, delivering Word and Sacrament to God's children who are not able to come and receive these Divine and Blessed Gifts.  It was a loooong, but most blessed, day!

Lord Jesus, our Savior, You have compassion upon all the sick and afflicted.  Be with me, Your servant, in this hour that I may rightly comfort, strengthen, encourage, admonish, and prepare the sick for a blessed death.  Grant me Your Holy Spirit that all I say may be blessed and my prayers and supplications be pleasing to You.  Into Your hands I commend myself; at Your bidding I go.  You will preserve me, for I trust in You.  Blessed be Your holy name.  Amen. (Pastor's prayer before visiting the sick - Lutheran Service Book:  Pastoral Care Companion, p. xx)    

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