A Bishop once wrote about his experiences of pastoral visiting. As a young Curate in his first Parish he had organised a visiting scheme to ensure that the sick and housebound people in the Parish were regularly visited. All apparently went well. However, some years later he revisited the Parish to see an elderly parishioner. Naturally he asked how she was; all was fine, her only problem was the number of Church people who rang her up and wanted to visit her. They were a nuisance! Such can be the perils of pastoral visiting.
As that young Curate realised, to visit the sick and housebound is an essential part of Christian ministry; to be with people in their times of need. As that now much wiser Bishop came to understand pastoral visiting has to be done with extreme sensitivity. Each person visited will have different needs and expectations of a visit and of the visitor. Visitors come to understand that visiting allows them to use one of our greatest God given gifts, that of listening.
Here at Holy Trinity we have been taking Holy Communion after our main Sunday Service to the housebound members of our congregation for some years. Recently we have begun to visit the sick and housebound during the week. As we engage in this work we are learning more and more about ourselves; learning to care, learning to listen. The young Curate who became a wise Bishop has much to teach us.