On Saturday morning, we had our first training session for Homebound Ministry at my congregation. I have to tell you, that even though I have been at this congregation for a long time, I keep being surprised by the variety of gifts I keep discovering. Our team leader, for example, is a social worker who deals with Alzheimers; another presenter is a psychologist who works with the Veterans Administration. Another of our leaders was trained as an elementary school teacher.
It was an exceptional morning, well-organized and planned, and full of knowledge and wisdom.
But it wasn't just the leaders who provided the wisdom.
For the past few years, there have been a handful of lay people who have already been going out, giving communion to shut-ins. We want to expand this ministry so that it includes more than just communion ministry. We also want to expand the number of communion ministers.
Among the participants on Saturday morning were some of those visitors.
There are two women who have been working as a team for the past couple of years. One of them drives; the other one doesn't feel comfortable driving, but she leads the communion service. They actually came to me and told me that they wanted to visit a friend of theirs who was a member of the congregation and who was experiencing memory loss. Since it was a transition time in the congregation and we were short-staffed, I was glad to say yes. Later on, they added one more friend to their list of visits.
On Saturday, during the presentations, we left time for questions and sharing.
One of the two women spoke up about their visits. She told me of the privilege of visiting their friends, and how one of them even questioned her, "why are you doing this?" She answered, "Because you are my friend." She told us now that one of their friends now was not able to receive the sacrament in the same way as she had before. "So now we just dip the tiniest bit of the wafer in the wine, and put it on her tongue."
She said it with such tenderness and grace, and I thought, "Who says that this woman is not a pastor?"
Though I have always believed fervently in the priesthood of all believers, I confess that I used to reserve the word "pastor" for the ordained. But why? After all, the priesthood of all believers means that we are all priests to one another, feeding, reflecting, mediating the presence of Christ for one another.
There are many homebound people in my congregation. There are also grieving people, lonely people, wondering people, dying people.
As it turns out, there are many pastors too. More than I ever knew.