Beneath the hubbub of a modern parish church, a silent flow of care binds church members together in a ministry so natural it goes largely unnoticed. That ministry is the simple art of visiting.
Sometimes this ministry takes the form of a phone call to someone we haven’t seen for awhile, sometimes as a text or an email. Sometimes it means a drive to a seniors’ home or to someone shut in by illness. Every week, the altar flowers go to someone in need, or to someone who might be encouraged merely by being noticed. Every week, the clergy meet to coordinate their visits to those in need, or to those who have asked for our care.
A few years ago, when Clara King left us, we wondered how all the pastoral visiting would get done with only one priest on staff. But then it dawned on us that it would get done the way it always gets done—by church members caring for one another. So we surveyed how many such visitors there were, and we asked them simply to report in about how the person they visited was doing, and whether a visit from the clergy might be useful.
Jesus said that God’s people would be identified at the end of time as those who visited the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked—those who cared for one another. Two thousand years later it’s still true: we are a community grounded in care, and therefore in visiting.