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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: LutherMan on February 01, 2013, 09:15:58 AM

Title: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: LutherMan on February 01, 2013, 09:15:58 AM
Why is it so difficult to get a pastor to visit/commune shut-ins?  I have several friends who are shut-ins, and they are seemingly ignored by their parish & pastors. In most cases they are members of the largest congregations in town?   In two cases, I have had to ask a mutual pastor friend (not from their parishes) to go see them.  One of the shut-ins was a member of a six pastor church...
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Charles_Austin on February 01, 2013, 09:30:36 AM
"Lutherman" writes:
Why is it so difficult to get a pastor to visit/commune shut-ins? 
I comment:
It is not, or it ought not to be difficult. Call the person's pastor and explain the need.

"Lutherman" writes:
I have several friends who are shut-ins, and they are seemingly ignored by their parish & pastors. In most cases they are members of the largest congregations in town? 
I comment:
The very size of the congregation might be an impediment. Are they known to be shut-in? Have them been active? Or are they just names on a roll? Are they currently in touch with the congregation in some way? Have they themselves requested a visit? (I have gone to a "shut-in" and the response has been sort of like "what the heck are you doing here?").

"Lutherman" writes:
In two cases, I have had to ask a mutual pastor friend (not from their parishes) to go see them. 
I comment:
Did he go? If so, he acted inappropriately.

"Lutherman" writes:
One of the shut-ins was a member of a six pastor church...
I comment:
See above.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Norman Teigen on February 01, 2013, 09:32:42 AM
A case can be made for members of the parish to provide visitations.  Laymen/women are no substitute for pastoral visitation but can supplement the work of the pastor.  If nothing else, a member of a congregation can bring along his/her hymnbook and sing hymns.  What is more important to a Lutheran than Lutheran hymns?  What Lutheran can't sing, or read, hymns?

People shouldn't complain about pastoral visits but they should do something about it.  In my opinion, shut-in parishioners  might a pastoral visitation  once a month.  In the meantime let the members of the parish get out and do something.   The Confessions state that the Gospel is communicated in various ways, one of which is the mutual consolation and conversation of the brethren (I would add sisteren to this).

I have done this while I was a member of both LC-MS and ELS congregations.  The pastors and the ones visited appreciate this.

Norman Teigen, Layman
Evangelical Lutheran Synod
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 01, 2013, 09:39:58 AM
It shouldn't be difficult to get a pastor to visit shut-ins.  This is a primary part of his call, namely to bring Word and Sacrament to those who cannot come to church (I commune my shut-ins on a monthly basis, which has been my practice for 25 years).  If a pastor feels overwhelmed at a parish where he seems to have too many demands, then he needs to reevaluate those demands and possibly employ the services of a retired pastor to assist.  Many parishes use retired men for this very purpose.  There are also CRM guys that could be used for such purposes, where they are available.  But to simply leave them without regular ministry is not an option, especially when there are already so many on staff. However, as indicated, it may be possible that the parish and pastors are unaware of the need and may need to be informed.  In larger parishes, especially over 1,000, it is difficult to remain as aware of everyone's immediate needs as one would like.  I know, I once pastored a church of 1,600.  If you haven't notified the pastors that these people are homebound, please do.  I would hope that they would appreciate the effort on your part. 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: LutherMan on February 01, 2013, 10:01:15 AM
The pastors/parishes of the shut-ins I am referring to are/were aware of their circumstances, and they are/were in care facilities.  One has recently passed away...
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dan Fienen on February 01, 2013, 01:01:52 PM
I do not doubt that a few pastors neglect shut-ins.  (I once had occasion on a Saturday morning to call a pastor and tell her that the husband of one of her members died, her reply was that since I was there {police chaplain from a different denomination} and had things in hand, she would get back to the member on Monday.)  That is unfortunate.
 
But as has been pointed out, at times other circumstances apply.  A few pastors are simply too overworked to do an adequate job.  Far more often, they simply are not asked to call so that they do not know that this is a shut-in situation rather than a delinquent member.  I once had a member complain that her husband (a nonmember) had be hospitalized and died without anyone from the church calling on him or her.  The truth was, nobody told us.  Far too often members assume we will know when there is a need, rather than asking for help that would be willingly, even eagerly given.
 
Dan
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: ANewLeaf on February 01, 2013, 01:07:15 PM
If pastors are honestly and truly neglecting their duties to bring Word and Sacrament to parishioners unable to attend worship services, that is a problem.  But as swbohler notes, it is not always that simple.

Also, shut-ins and other parishioners need to understand that bringing Word and Sacrament to the shut-ins is the pastor's job; being the sole source of entertainment and/or contact with the outside world is not his job.  Most of my shut-ins are not interested in lengthy theological discussions or confession of their sins.  They simply want to chat about the weather and their grandkids and the 201st (for real) dish towel they are embroidering.  I don't mind doing this, but it certainly does not require "the pastor".  I am thinking (guessing?) that when shut-ins say "the pastor never comes to visit", often what they really mean is "no one ever comes to visit."

Personally, I brag about my nursing home peeps because most of them are still able to be up and about with the help of walkers/wheelchairs, and so they go visit each other!  This is the Body of Christ!
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: readselerttoo on February 01, 2013, 01:30:01 PM
Why is it so difficult to get a pastor to visit/commune shut-ins?  I have several friends who are shut-ins, and they are seemingly ignored by their parish & pastors. In most cases they are members of the largest congregations in town?   In two cases, I have had to ask a mutual pastor friend (not from their parishes) to go see them.  One of the shut-ins was a member of a six pastor church...


Many times people assume the pastor knows they want a visit without them even calling the pastor themselves.  Visitation happens when pastors not only visit on their own volition but also upon shut-ins who are pro-active about wanting be visited.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Weedon on February 01, 2013, 01:35:08 PM
It certainly also happens that they don't remember the pastor being there, and so tell their relatives that they've not seen him. That shouldn't surprise. How many times do relatives find out that THEIR visits are not remembered either? Always best to assume the best and double check just to clarify. Ask me how I know...
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Rev. Matthew Uttenreither on February 01, 2013, 02:03:37 PM
I've learned over the years to leave notes, bulletins, newsletters, and dating and signing my name in a guest book or calendar just to let the family and/or nursing staff I was there.  Like Fr. Weedon said, most of these people do not remember who visits them let alone how often. 

But I have also seen pastors who refuse to make calls such as shut-ins/hospitals, and not because they were too busy.  I've even heard from one pastor who has a big church that the church has more important things to do than to visit the sick/shut-in.  I've also heard another pastor say that such visits are depressing and as such ruin his idea of ministry. 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Russ Saltzman on February 01, 2013, 03:37:13 PM
I've also heard another pastor say that such visits are depressing and as such ruin his idea of ministry.

Notes From a Communion Call
August 21, 1980

   She is 86 years old and requires constant nursing care. Until her retirement she was a college professor; until her illness she led an active retirement. A major stroke some few years ago deprived her of speech by partially paralyzing her throat and facial muscles. Age, frailty, and arthritis have done the rest.
   Her niece, her only family and only marginally connected to the parish, has asked me to see her. I don’t know her.
   
   She has great difficulty swallowing because of the paralysis. She drools continually. Her tongue lolls to one side, some portion of it always outside her mouth. She has no teeth; they were removed after the stroke to aid her swallowing. She is embarrassed by her appearance and holds a tissue to her lower face, hiding, absorbing the saliva.
   She communicates with an occasional grunt, all she can manage vocally, and laboriously writes responses and questions in a large childish hand on an oversized note pad.
   Her eyesight is poor. She writes blind, huge looping letters in a long scrawl. She can’t see what she writes and I can’t read it. I have to ask her to write it again, and once more, frustrated with myself that I cannot read it the first time and must ask a second and a third time.
   Her mind is active, inquisitive.
   She has numerous talking books for the blind about her room. Some, I note, are very recent titles.

   She writes and begins to weep, the soft, low animal sounds of someone deeply wounded. I can’t read it. She writes it again. “I am a prisoner.”
   Of what, I wonder. Her body? This nursing home?
   “I want to die,” she writes. “Why won’t God let me die?”
   “I don't know,” and I reach for her hand.
   If I hold her hand she can’t write this stuff, and I don’t want to read it.

   This isn’t the way shut-in calls are supposed to work.
   The mythology is, I am the one who is to go away marveling at the capacity for human faith in adversity, and the person visited is to be cheered with the comfort of the pastor’s presence.
   There is nothing here at which to marvel, and poor comfort to give. All that is here is an old lady who wants to die and a pastor who doesn’t know why God won’t let her.
   Why won’t God just let her die?

   I ask if she would like Holy Communion.
   She grunts through the tissue. I assume she means yes. I commence the ritual. We share communion. I shave a sliver of bread from the wafer and mingle it with a very small bit of wine, so she can receive without choking. I put it to her lips. She manages to swallow some.
   I feel absurd.
   What we are doing feels absurd. I am drained, exhausted after fifteen minutes with an old woman I don’t know. It seems surreal, if not meaningless.
   Hurriedly, I pronounce the benediction, wondering with what degree of favor the Lord does look upon this old woman.
   The mythological piety of pastoral calling again takes over. She is now supposed to feel uplifted, her countenance transformed.
   Nothing like that happens.
   Sometimes faith is tossed into the teeth of realities we cannot fathom, and we can only hope to escape with as little damage to ourselves as possible.

   Afterward, she reaches for the pad and scrawls something I can’t read. Hating myself for having to ask, I tell her to do it again. She writes “Thank you.”
   I know so little about her. I know only she wants to die.
   Some many weeks later, after putting another visit off as long as I could before guilt propelled me go, I was preparing to see her again when the nursing home called.
   She had died that very morning.
   I thanked God, but I still cannot say whether it was for her or for me.


-- The Pastor's Page and Other Small Essays, ALPB, 2010
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Weedon on February 01, 2013, 04:18:41 PM
Thank you, Pr. Saltzman. It is depressing beyond belief. That reminded me so much of Ruth. She had been left paralyzed in an auto accident that took her husband. She was a shutin the entire 20 years I was serving as pastor of St. Paul's. I buried her mom, her brothers, her son-in-law and yet still she hung on. And she only wanted to go, especially after she had to move to a nursing home. You could see the darkness simply deepening and the cold chill of death teasing, but not taking hold. I hated visiting her at the end, when she didn't even receive communion. The attempt to read a passage that could comfort fell flat. She didn't seem able to focus on anything outside whatever was going on in her mind. She wanted it to be over. Finally it was.

There are visits like that, and they're hard to make. But we still need to make them. She was one of the shutins that I most looked forward to visiting. Always bright and full of joy despite the broken body. Never complaining. I mean not even once did I hear the woman utter a complaint. Except the silence at the end that was her plea for death. She'd pray the liturgy right along with me (including the pastors parts) but not at the end. At the end just that silence and the Kyrie eleison that cried out from her eyes.

Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: John_Hannah on February 01, 2013, 04:54:23 PM
RUSSELL, WILL, HARVEY

You posts are simply elegant. They should be read by every seminarian and every pastor who wonders how he got into this business.


Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Eileen Smith on February 01, 2013, 05:12:28 PM
My pastor called me one day to say that a woman called, requesting that he visit her father, who was seriously ill and in the hospital.  My pastor didn't recognize the name and called me to ask if I could tell him anything about this member.  I didn't recognize the name either.  We looked through the membership list, a list of inactive members, and a list of members who had left the congregation - no luck.  He did visit this man and casually mentioned to the woman that there was no record of her dad.  Indignantly, she assured him that he was indeed a member.  However, he left "for a while" after a disagreement with Pastor Linzer.  Problem was - this story takes place in the late 1980's, Pastor Linzer died in the 1960's. 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 01, 2013, 05:23:38 PM
One effective way to make certain there is  real
communciation about your nursing home or
hospital visits........After your visit, phone the
nearest relative and update them on your visit.
They will appreciate your concern and have the
satisfaction that their loved one was visited.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Norman Teigen on February 01, 2013, 05:37:13 PM

A written note to the family about the visit is also appropriate.  The professional people at the care facility will make sure that the family reads the note.   It's all about communication.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dave Benke on February 01, 2013, 05:49:32 PM
RUSSELL, WILL, HARVEY

You posts are simply elegant. They should be read by every seminarian and every pastor who wonders how he got into this business.


Peace, JOHN

I agree, John.  What should happen at alpb is that some of the best posts in the best threads should be bound into a volume for use by parishes and church workers.  We leave it to you on the board to cull through them and discern which are the good ones and which the dross. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 01, 2013, 08:54:43 PM
It is abundantly evident here that pastors who visit the disabled, the frail elderly, and other physically broken saints receive a priceless gift in the privilege of serving.  As with any pastor who has served a while pictures and names of past and present saints fill my mind reading the reflections of others.  Each presented me with challenges, but each gave me the joy of representing Christ and his mercy.  Ken, a victim of Lou Gehrig's Disease, who had to receive the host in a spoon with water to allow his nearly paralyzed muscles to swallow, trapped in a frozen body with an active mind, his tears of frustration and pain my last memory...nearly shouting the words of institution into the almost completely deaf ear of a 90+ saint who once sang "Children of the Heavenly Father" in Swedish one time when I came to the nursing home...Bill, weak with lung cancer, who reverently knelt in his living room to receive the Lord's Supper, a friend and substitute grandfather to my then young son, at whose death I wanted so much to cry at my own loss....Ruth, who often forgot my visits in a medicine induced haze and complained to others that I had not visited her, yet whose bed I stood beside with her family gathered around as I commended her to her heavenly Father in those last precious moments....Don who lives alone and appreciates simply having someone to talk to....Walter, a saint of nearly a century, whose mortal remains I helped carry out of his house as an unofficial and honored pallbearer....Jim who remained ever curious about the affairs of the church even though he could no longer attend...Jeannette at whose death bed I sang hymns, a comfort not only to the dying, but the living....and so many, many more....thank you for jogging my memory......
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: LutherMan on February 01, 2013, 09:36:56 PM
Just to make sure everyone on this thread knows, the shut-ins I referred to are/were faithful and prominent members of the parishes they belonged to.  It is a crying shame they were neglected by their parish pastors.  I am glad the mutual friend retired pastor picked up the slack and brought them Word & Sacrament.  We are all volunteers at a local Lutheran thrift shop.  It is astonishing to me that a mega LCMS parish with six pastors neglects shut-ins...
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: DCharlton on February 01, 2013, 09:48:07 PM
One kind of shut-in that I find hard to visit are those
a) require an appointment to visit them
b) are too busy to fit you in to their schedules
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Charles_Austin on February 01, 2013, 09:51:48 PM
King of Kings Lutheran Church in Omaha, "Lutherman," lists five pastors, not six; but if that's the congregation you are talking about, why not contact someone there and see what is really happening? You are being critical from far outside the circle to know what the real deal is.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Voelker on February 01, 2013, 11:01:57 PM
One kind of shut-in that I find hard to visit are those
a) require an appointment to visit them
b) are too busy to fit you in to their schedules
That's the majority of shut-ins these days, it seems, but not due to their overactive social schedules. Medical appointments take up far more of their weeks than they will admit — until they have to be pinned down on a time for a visit.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: DCharlton on February 02, 2013, 12:05:03 AM
One kind of shut-in that I find hard to visit are those
a) require an appointment to visit them
b) are too busy to fit you in to their schedules
That's the majority of shut-ins these days, it seems, but not due to their overactive social schedules. Medical appointments take up far more of their weeks than they will admit — until they have to be pinned down on a time for a visit.

That's certainly true.  Although those people are usually eager to set a time, even if its a few weeks away.  They also appreciate the call.

There is, however, the other kind.  I've heard most pastors mention the person who will complain that the pastor never visits, but in reality declines visits when offered.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Charles_Austin on February 02, 2013, 03:22:10 AM
I had one "shut-in" who, I learned, went out to play bridge twice a week. Guess who said she couldn't get to church "as often as I like" and fussed if I didn't go to see her often enough. 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on February 02, 2013, 10:13:53 AM
Today, on the Feast of the Presentation we are especially mindful of the Simeons and Annas in our midst; those who are faithful present awaiting Christ's appearing, and those who are consistently absent who must be sought out by the Light of Nations.

A dozen or so years ago I faced a doubling of the "shut in" list in less than three months time.  Some were quite legitimately incapacitated.  Others were not.  The piece that follows was one that I published in the parish newsletter around A.D. 2001:

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO TO SEE .....?

The subject of when does a parishioner become a “shut in” is a very sensitive one.  Sometimes an illness or disability strikes suddenly and severely; as, for example, with a stroke that causes one to be placed in a long-term are facility.  Or Hospice is summoned for terminal cancer.   There little doubt:  the parishioner is unable to go anywhere.

But these circumstances are the exception, not the rule.  Far more frequently the aging process causes a gradual decline in activity.  The decline may occasionally be reversed; but few who go from cane to walker ever return to cane, and fewer still who go from walker to wheelchair ever walk again.

My premise is that in all but the sudden and severe cases, the ministry of the Church is to encourage restoration into as full a participation as possible in the worshiping community.  To quote from the Lutheran World Federation study Baptism, Rites of Passage, and Culture

Christian rites for healing must offer what God offers us in Christ.   In these rites, it must be clear that it is God who is acting, by his Word, by his Spirit.  The healer is God, not the minister  Healing is seen as a revelation of God’s victory, not ours...The healing is mediated through the community which God has create, the Church....A Biblical understanding of healing will include as of first importance attention to the restoration of the person’s dignity.    This dignity, conferred at Baptism and underlined at the eucharistic table, is threatened when a person is ill.  A Christian healing rite must work to reassure us of that dignity.  Also, it is clear from [the New Testament book of] James, for example, that healing is a function of the Christian community. 

Healing ministration and the sharing of the Holy Communion can, and should, and does, occur everywhere.  “It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all time and in all places...” begins the Preface to the Great Thanksgiving.  The places include hospital bedsides, nursing home rooms, and private homes.

But these places are never quite as fitting as the place that has been consecrated for the gathering of the congregation, the Church.  It is here that we first receive new life in Baptism; it is here that we receive God’s refreshing grace week after week through Word and Sacrament; it is here that we confess our faith to Affirm our Baptism. 

To reduce the obstacles for those whose health is in decline many costly improvements have been made to the Church building in recent years.  These  make the facility more accessible to persons with special needs.  There  are no longer any steps  from the parking area in front of the Church doors into the the Narthex..  A wireless hearing assistance system has been installed.   Large print Bibles and bulletins are always available. Air conditioning relieves humidity.  There is even a supply of cushions on hand for those who find wooden pews too uncomfortable.

Yet another way of making the gifts of God more assessable to the people of God has been the institution of a half-hour service at Noon on the Second and Fourth Wednesdays of nearly every month.

Why all these efforts to encourage folks, even as they decline, to come to the house of the Lord?  Because just as few who go from cane to walker return to cane, and fewer still who go from walker to wheelchair ever walk again so also few who absent themselves from the services of God’s house through advancing age ever resume again.. 

Decline in physical activity should not be “enabled” through he misguided sympathy of caregivers who may, for example, find it easier to push a wheel chair than to move at a slower pace accompanying a walker; or by doing for another what he or she could do, albeit much more slowly and with greater difficulty.  This misplaced “kindness” only hastens the coming of the day when dependency is total and irreversible.

So likewise for spiritual care.  Dependency is to be avoided--participation--even if labored and less regular than before--is to be encouraged.  Home visits and Communions begin gradually and occasionally, rather than immediately occurring monthly.

I must add a personal reflection at this point.   I grew up in a “four generation” household consisting of my parents, my mother’s parents, and my mother’s two grandmothers.   My grandmother was a “C and E” (Christmas and Easter) Christian most of my life, in part because of recuperation from a massive heart attack when I was 2; in part because she was not encouraged to make her way back into the community of faith on a more regular basis.

But “Nana” was adamantly not a “shutz-in”  Indeed, when a church directory came out that listed her as such she spent the next several hours telephoning all of her friends with great indignation saying  “They say that I'm a shutz-in.....I’m no shutz-in!” 

I admire Nana’s honest assessment of her condition.  She did not drive, but she went on frequent car-trips to visit friends and relatives.  She took car rides to her monthly “class meeting” and to the Golden Age club.  And, of course, to the weekly appointment at the beauty parlor.   She would travel on Lincoln tour line trips with my grandfather and take the train to Pittsburgh for the Pennsylvania League of Cities convention.  No, she was not a “shutz-in”. 

Her assessment was in perfect agreement with what  the late  Pastor Kenneth Ehrhart wrote in  My Church, September 1969: Note:  Pastor Ehrhart served this parish from 1935 through 1969]

NOTE ON COMMUNION
Private Communion

We cannot give home Communion to any except the home-bound and the bed-bound.  If you can go to a picnic, a reunion, a viewing, the barbershop, a store, a car-ride, you can be brought to the church in the afternoon for Communion.  Don’t feel badly if I don’t come to see you, if you can do any of the things mentioned above.  I gladly go to those who are home-bound or bed-bound.  Make a special effort, please!  Thanks.

Every summer there are some who otherwise like to consider themselves  “shut-in” that tell me of their outings to the family reunion.  How tragic it is that there is not an equal determination to be united with the family of God at the table where Christ reunites us to Himself!   How  dispiriting to consider that in some cases the “shut-in” has been driven past the Church on the way to the reunion grounds--and on a Sunday at that!  How dismal that one can endure the  heat and flies and uneven ground of a picnic grove but not the air conditioned comfort and smooth, steady walking of the house of God! 

Like the late Pastor Ehrhart, I gladly go to those who are home-bound or bed-bound.   I sadly go to those who somehow manage to get to just about everywhere else they want to.  I go sadly because restoration seems an almost insurmountable  challenge.  I go sadly because I may be “enabling” a dependency and, even worse, an indifference to being restored to the worshiping community; that I may be aiding and abetting sabbath breaking.  I go sadly because when I faced my own disability I only left the house to go to Doctor or to Church--and I hoped that in so doing I would be preaching without words and teaching by example.

But I go

And I continue to hope, and to pray, and to encourage that they come
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: A Catholic Lutheran on February 02, 2013, 11:33:23 AM
One of the things said to me, by the Call Committee, when I was considering my (now current) call:
"We NEED someone who cares about our homebound members..."

So I have made it a HIGH priority to get out and visit early in my tenure.  What I have found is what I hate to admit to myself...I had really fallen down on this basic pastoral function in my previous call.  May God have mercy on me for failing so badly with Cross of Grace on this!  What I have also found is that when I share the fact that I have called on so-and-so, suddenly those names are remembered by this community.  People suddenly say "Oh! I haven't heard that name in a long time!"  or "I have never heard of that person before..." in some cases.  And the homebound person is suddenly, literally, RE-membered and added back into the consciousness of the Body.

As to the hard-ness of the work...  Yeah.  It is hard.  Pity the Pastor who is so calloused that they can go in and not have their heart rended.  I have a member who is in his 70's now.  Back when he was 15, he went in for a very early version of a PET scan and suffered a brain-hemorage when he reacted badly to the dye/contrast injected into his system.  Do the math... that was 60-some-odd years ago and he has been confined to a chair or bed, unable to speak, since.  He is tended to by his now 92-year old mother.  It is a HARD visit.  It is also a GOOD visit.  In his mother, I see Mary at the Cross.  In my stricken member, I see the face of Christ.  Together they make a Pieta that is every bit as excellent as Michaelangelo's.  When I go, that is the ONLY visit I schedule for the day because I KNOW that I will be so drained by it.  It is the Via Dolorossa, not because they aren't excedingly nice people, but because to walk with them is to walk in the presence of our Lord.  Not any prosaic "I come to the garden alone..." presence of Christ, but the bleeding, suffering, dying steps of our Lord and the beautiful love of his mother who stands at the foot of the cross.

Pastors...EVERY PASTOR, if we are brutally honest...has failed (or is failing) at visitation.  Just as every Pastor has betrayed our Ordination Vows most assuredly as Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter thrice denied him.  We should feel every bit of guilt and shame at this, but then comes the question--So what are you going to do about it?  We could let the shame drive us away from Jesus.  Or we can swallow our pride, return to the Apostolic company (our fellow Pastors) and renew the struggle to do better.  Like Peter, there is forgiveness and renewal waiting for us.  There is forgiveness and renewal awaiting Judas too...if he could have embraced it.

Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Michael Slusser on February 02, 2013, 11:46:29 AM
Yes, Pastor Kliner! If I may add something from a talk I gave in Greenville PA to a Lutheran and Catholic audience several years ago:

I want to call our attention this evening simply to a revealing fact about our parish life. 
         Visiting the sick and the homebound is one of the great kindnesses that good people carry out. Whether it is delivering meals on wheels, bringing Holy Communion, coming to chat or to pray or to run errands or tend the plants or clean the walks—it is a good work sanctioned by scripture as well as by all the centuries of Christian life. If you have done it, you know that the people you visit miss coming to church. They feel out of touch, on the sidelines, not much good for anything. The volunteer work that they used to do is being done by others, as is the singing in the choir, the day care, the religious education, the stewardship committee meetings (that they used to complain about!). They feel as if the real life, the real work of Christ's church is going on without them, and they are consuming the church's efforts, not contributing to them. And we, who are able to participate in the spiritual and social world of the congregation, tend to feel the same way about them.
         That fact reveals that we do not understand the real importance of the work being done by those who suffer. If one were to ask, "Where is Christ's work being carried on with the greatest intensity in our parish today?", the answer should probably be, "Where the cross is heaviest, the pain greatest, where the battle against all that is opposed to God's loving plan is fiercest." Often that is in the sickroom, though every pastor knows many instances of walking wounded whose agonies, whether physical or spiritual, can match those of the bed-ridden.
   The church will succeed in integrating the work of the sick and suffering into its overall mission only when it realizes that their work is at the center of church life, not on its fringes. The passion of Christ and the power of Christ are most directly engaged in the work of salvation where things are most difficult. And that is usually not in the church building on Sunday morning! Sometimes it is in the life of people who never get to church at all.


Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Rev. Matthew Uttenreither on February 02, 2013, 01:28:08 PM
I have picked up quite of few ladies (some men) as members simply because they see me visit their neighbor who is homebound (either in their own home or in a senior apt.)  Some of these new ones come to church others were shut-in but simply forgotten by their own church.  Most of these people were ELCA.  It is my perception (shared by quite of few laity-ELCA, LCMS, NALC, Rome)  at least out here in my part of rural Wisconsin that those who are LCMS or NALC do a better job at visiting then those in the ELCA and Rome.   The nursing home staffs at many of the homes will tell me who visits and how often.  I am thankful that the LCMS guys get good scores as does a certain NALC pastor in my area.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Charles_Austin on February 02, 2013, 01:32:47 PM
When Pastor Uttenreither begins a post with "I have picked up quite of few ladies....", it really makes me want to read on.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Rev. Matthew Uttenreither on February 02, 2013, 01:43:47 PM
When Pastor Uttenreither begins a post with "I have picked up quite of few ladies....", it really makes me want to read on.

Funny!  Again, you can have the last word.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Norman Teigen on February 02, 2013, 06:32:55 PM
That's a good one. Heh heh.  Picking up the ladies.  I always liked that one.

I have read some amazingly good things on this thread.  I want to put in another plug for participation in parish visits by the laity.  We need to become involved, dear brethren and sisteren, because it is the work that we all can do.   We need to follow the direction of our pastors in this and show our willingness to participate.   It is a matter of the living out of the concept of the priesthood of all believers.

I personally believe that this is the most personally satisfying church work that can be done. 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 02, 2013, 06:41:17 PM
I had more opportunities to "pick up" young men
and women from our PreSchool.  They would come
to Lutheran School Sunday Worship Service to
hear their children sing.  Then they would keep
coming back.  The Lord blessed our parish with
many baptisms of preschoolers and adult confirmands
of  their parents.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dan Fienen on February 02, 2013, 06:41:36 PM
I am a firm believer in providing pastoral care for shut-ins.  I am also firm about not encouraging those who could reasonably attend church to stay at home and having the pastor come to them.  It is better if they can, even with help needed, attend church with the congregation.  That can be a tough call to make.  One indication is if I have a hard time catching a shut-in at home among their other activities, they may not be a real shut-in.  (By the by, for making house calls I always phone first, not only in case there are doctor appointments or what not, but generally it is polite to give warning before showing up at the door.)
 
Dan
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Eugene Crowner on February 02, 2013, 07:31:50 PM

 ... There is even a supply of cushions on hand for those who find wooden pews too uncomfortable. ...




When I was a very young child a rather elderly (or so it seemed) woman always left her pillow on the rear pew at the conclusion of the service.  No one ever bothered it, Mrs. K's pillow remained in the church until she died.

At her age and condition Mrs. K's housekeeping was none too good.  My mother's sister visited while on vacation during WW2.  My mother, the pastor's wife, took her sister along when visiting Mrs. K.  My mother drank the juice Mrs. K offered, my mother's sister entered into our family's lore when she poured her juice into the flowers while Mrs. K's back was turned.

P. S.  I am now older than Mrs. K was at time of her death.

Eugene Crowner 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on February 02, 2013, 07:46:16 PM

 ... There is even a supply of cushions on hand for those who find wooden pews too uncomfortable. ...


When I was a very young child a rather elderly (or so it seemed) woman always left her pillow on the rear pew at the conclusion of the service.  No one ever bothered it, Mrs. K's pillow remained in the church until she died.

At her age and condition Mrs. K's housekeeping was none too good.  My mother's sister visited while on vacation during WW2.  My mother, the pastor's wife, took her sister along when visiting Mrs. K.  My mother drank the juice Mrs. K offered, my mother's sister entered into our family's lore when she poured her juice into the flowers while Mrs. K's back was turned.

P. S.  I am now older than Mrs. K was at time of her death.

Eugene Crowner

More than a decade ago my semi-shut-ins included a feisty old farmer who was bi-lingual, fluent Pennsylvania Dutch being the other language.  Most likely English was his second language.

He would supply me with English walnuts from his trees...and one time, with some homemade wine. "Here's something to use in Church!" he said with a grin.  I placed the container of dark, frothy liquid carefully between the seats of the car.

By the time I'd made it the six miles or so home the container looked like the proverbial tempest in a teapot.  I had stopped at the end of my lane to retrieve the newspaper.  I knew that this wouldn't be fit for Church use.  Being careful to hold the lid of the container away from me I headed gingerly to a groundhog hole nearby.  The lid shot off like a champagne cork.  The seething contents went into the burrow. 

It was years before that burrow was occupied again.

Old Raymond never knew what happened---but that story was one that I shared in his Requiem homily years later.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Norman Teigen on February 05, 2013, 10:22:26 AM
Heh heh.  Good one.  I always liked that one about the home brew.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: mariemeyer on February 05, 2013, 02:19:33 PM
Among the joys of being a parish deaconess and chaplain at a county home for the elderly was the privilege of visiting home bound shut-ins and the infirm confined to nursing homes.

It was the practice of my supervising pastor to commune the shut-ins once a month. He asked that I visit them once a week for prayer and the reading of Scripture.  Among the dearest shut-ins were the elderly parents of Fort Wayne professor, Eugene Klug.

Years later the congregation my husband served asked that Bill and I follow the same practice.  Large congregations do well to consider calling a deaconess to assist in ministry to the elderly.

Marie Meyer



 
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: swbohler on February 05, 2013, 04:25:05 PM
Among the joys of being a parish deaconess and chaplain at a county home for the elderly was the privilege of visiting home bound shut-ins and the infirm confined to nursing homes.

It was the practice of my supervising pastor to commune the shut-ins once a month. He asked that I visit them once a week for prayer and the reading of Scripture.  Among the dearest shut-ins were the elderly parents of Fort Wayne professor, Eugene Klug.

Years later the congregation my husband served asked that Bill and I follow the same practice.  Large congregations do well to consider calling a deaconess to assist in ministry to the elderly.

Marie Meyer

Amen!  Amen!  Amen!
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Jay Michael on February 05, 2013, 04:43:44 PM
Among the joys of being a parish deaconess and chaplain at a county home for the elderly was the privilege of visiting home bound shut-ins and the infirm confined to nursing homes.

It was the practice of my supervising pastor to commune the shut-ins once a month. He asked that I visit them once a week for prayer and the reading of Scripture.  Among the dearest shut-ins were the elderly parents of Fort Wayne professor, Eugene Klug.

Years later the congregation my husband served asked that Bill and I follow the same practice.  Large congregations do well to consider calling a deaconess to assist in ministry to the elderly.

Marie Meyer

Amen!  Amen!  Amen!
For years, my congregation taped the church service and I and other church members distributed these tapes ... sometimes moving them from home to home during the week. At times it was a quick knock at the door and a simple drop off after the Divine Service on Sunday ... other times it involved an in home visit. Visits from pastor(s) and deaconess are great ... but should be augmented by congregational members when possible.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 05, 2013, 04:50:57 PM
Many congregations have implemented the
"Stephen Ministry"  which requires trained laity
to minister to fellow laity in the parish.  While
this ministry is not geared for hospital  and
shut-in visitation, it could be adapted for this
purpose. 

The fellowship of a parish is only as strong as
its interpersonal relationships.  Laity calling
on and visiting laity is one way to build up a
parish.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: swbohler on February 05, 2013, 04:59:50 PM
Among the joys of being a parish deaconess and chaplain at a county home for the elderly was the privilege of visiting home bound shut-ins and the infirm confined to nursing homes.

It was the practice of my supervising pastor to commune the shut-ins once a month. He asked that I visit them once a week for prayer and the reading of Scripture.  Among the dearest shut-ins were the elderly parents of Fort Wayne professor, Eugene Klug.

Years later the congregation my husband served asked that Bill and I follow the same practice.  Large congregations do well to consider calling a deaconess to assist in ministry to the elderly.

Marie Meyer

Amen!  Amen!  Amen!
For years, my congregation taped the church service and I and other church members distributed these tapes ... sometimes moving them from home to home during the week. At times it was a quick knock at the door and a simple drop off after the Divine Service on Sunday ... other times it involved an in home visit. Visits from pastor(s) and deaconess are great ... but should be augmented by congregational members when possible.

Amen!  Amen! Amen!
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Weedon on February 05, 2013, 05:06:00 PM
Pr. Bohler, are those Amens sung or spoken? Inquiring minds would like to know. :) I can't help but hear them sung to the DS III tone.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: Jay Michael on February 05, 2013, 05:06:39 PM
I had more opportunities to "pick up" young men
and women from our PreSchool.  They would come
to Lutheran School Sunday Worship Service to
hear their children sing.  Then they would keep
coming back.  The Lord blessed our parish with
many baptisms of preschoolers and adult confirmands
of  their parents.
Thank God for that .... our congregation had a day care for years ... the pastor gave special attention and care to the unchurched patrons, but sadly, they viewed things from a strictly business standpoint ... very little "visible" growth ....only the Lord know ...  but eventually the congregation moved its outreach efforts in other areas.
Title: Re: Shut-Ins/Pastoral Visitations
Post by: LutherMan on February 05, 2013, 05:09:01 PM
I don't see the need for a Stephen Ministry to get the active laity involved in visiting shut-ins.  Some of us just do it on our own accord.  Be sure to let the church office know when you have made a visit, so the pastor and others can plan accordingly...