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  • Writer's pictureRev. Christopher Tweel

When did I visit you Lord?

What's the best thing we can do?

Visiting our church family can be intimidating. I’ll admit that. If you aren’t used to it, hospitals and nursing facilities can bring back a lot of un-dealt with emotions. They can intimidate us, and confront us with our own hangup about death, the end of our lives, and the reality of the fleeting time we have together on earth. That’s a lot to pack into going to see someone for 20 minutes.

Not to mention the endless battle with our schedules and just trying to square away the physical time to add one more thing seems insurmountable.

The thing is, visiting our folks is already being done by ministry teams and the pastors. Elders and deacons already share this ministry and do a great job trying to insure that our family has visitors to pray over them, to sit with them, and in short to just show our love and support in a time of potential struggle.

Yet even so, I want to encourage families to enter into this practice as well.

If you have to, call in sick. Skip a soccer tournament. Pass on attending that gallery opening.

It has that much of an impact.

And not just on the person being visited. But on the ones doing the visits. Especially our kids.

I’ve been taking my daughter Amara with me now for a little over a year on visits. And visitation isn’t my main focus in my position, but I try to visit who I can. And when I do I take her with me. Here’s what that has done:

It forced me to re-frame the visit. If there were any personal worries or baggage that I was bringing along with me, I was pushed out of that by finding a way to explain things to my 5-year old. “What is this place?” Well... it’s a place where folks go when something happens, like they get very sick very fast, or they break a bone. As we get older, sometimes we just need more help getting better before we can go home. “Who are we visiting?” This is someone from our church family. You might not remember them, let’s go see them together and learn who they are, ok? “Why are we going to see them?” Well, just think if you weren’t feeling good, and couldn’t stay at home? Sometimes that can be sad, and if it were me, seeing my church family would help me feel a little better.

It’s created a new place for her to witness prayer. We pray at the table, in church, before a trip, at night before bed, when we wake up... how often do we pray at other times? This gave her a place to witness a personal and loving prayer between a few people, and to take part in it.

It continues to take the intimidation factor out of hospitals and nursing facilities. Sometimes those places aren’t the friendliest, but, by creating good memories of visiting people together, we are reshaping how she will remember them and connect with them in the future.

It has connected her to our older members. As folks improve, and get better, seeing them in church again is a big deal! My daughter has the opportunity to shout out, “You’re better!” She has the opportunity to be hospitable and welcome them, and the one who is coming back is treated to the excitement of a kid on their return.

Overall, being able to take our young children with us on these visits sends a message that servant-hood, and selfless love are worthy actions in our families. It’s an invaluable message, and an amazing way to spend an afternoon.

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