Visitation…

The first time I sat with a Pastor in my own home, we were in our early twenties. We had just begun attending the church when the secretary called to ask us if it was okay for Pastor Ufema to come visit. Keith and I scurried around our little house on Cross Street trying to make it presentable. I made iced tea from a packet and strawberry shortcake from scratch.

Pastor Ufema filled our little house. He was 6 foot something and a giant of a man. We had to turn off the ceiling fan, so it didn’t take off the top of his head. He ate shortcake topped with fresh berries and asked about our lives. We told him we didn’t expect to have any more children (Steph was born 10 months later). We talked about being part of a church family. He described church life as hard and holy work. He assured us that he would eventually let us down, and we would probably disappoint him as well. He committed to loving us even still and asked us to do the same. When his blue van pulled out of our drive, we felt cared for and seen. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

We did grow into that church family, and Pastor Ufema was right about this hard and holy work. Our family grew up in that little church. We shared life, weekly on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights. We cried over the pews when things got tough. That particular gathering of humans shaped our lives in untold ways and the practical care and support we received still moves forward in our lives.

When a new Pastor came into our church family, we got by the awkwardness with pure intention and honest conversation and found a new friend. Pastor Brown’s commitment to the hard work of real relationships has taught me so much. We count he and his wife among our closest friends. We have walked through heartache and difficulty in the church and our own families, together. Their humility and integrity challenge us and their fierce commitment to our very best is bracing in the storms of life.

These relationships can cover over the simplicity of a visit from your pastor. Friendship and shared history connect us, and real relationships have been forged over time, so they walk into our lives with the tenderness and familiarity. So, it feels like it has been a long time since we’ve had a visit from our Pastor, even though it isn’t really true.

I hadn’t thought about the power and simplicity of pastoral visitation in years. Until this week. Until Pastor Bariloni called to say he wondered if he could come and spend some time with us. We didn’t clean up, and we didn’t prepare this time. We simply said come on over. He came with tenderness and encouragement. We shared our fears and our faith. He spoke words of truth and compassion into our lives. He shared a passage of scripture. We prayed together. When his little red car left our driveway, we felt seen and cared for. This morning, I am so grateful for this simple act of grace.

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