Prayer: Redeeming God, prepare our hearts this day for the coming of the Christ Child. Prepare our hearing so that we may listen for Your Good News and be ready for the coming of the Christ Child. Prepare our voices so that we can tell others of the coming of the Christ Child. Prepare our hands so that we can share the light of Your love with those who need You this day. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Amen.
Pastoral care. In this time of Advent, of hope and peace and love and joy, never forget those who are shut in and unable to attend Church. Each Sunday during Advent, the Church gathers to light a candle and remember this time of waiting for the birth of the Christ Child. But what about those who are not able to attend Church due to sickness or ill health? When people are ill or have mobility problems and can't get out to Church, too often our Church forgets them. Some how "out of sight, out of mind" becomes a reality. But in actual fact, those who are shut in are desperate to be part of a worshipping community. Those who are shut in want to be part of lighting that Advent candle too! There is nothing better for a person who is not able to attend Church then to be provided with worship services tapes/CDs/online and Church bulletins/printed sermons so they know what is going on in the Church community.
Pastoral care also means bringing Communion to those who are ill or healing. A minister and an elder coming to bring Communion is part of pastoral care. It also shows the person who is shut in that the Church community cares deeply for them. This is the love that a Church can bring into this Advent season to those who are sick and weak and healing in hospitals and Nursing Homes and at home.
When a Church provides pastoral care, remember that those who are shut in and healing are not stupid. Too often our Church is cheap and while the re-gifting of funeral flowers to those who are shut in and healing is thought to be good, it really isn't. We know second hand funeral flowers when we see them. And what does that tell those who are shut in and healing? It tells them that the Church does not see them as a priority. When a person is feeling blah to start with because of surgery or illness, being handed second hand anything makes one feel as if the Church community doesn't really consider them a vital part of the Church anymore. And this is sad. Why not take fresh flowers bought specifically for the person who is shut in or healing?
Pastoral care is not just one sided! The people who are shut in and unable to attend Church are also a Church's greatest prayer resource. People who are healing and told by the Dr's to rest have a lot of time for prayer and meditation. Ask those who are shut in to pray for specific things or events or people from the congregation.
This Advent, remember those who are shut in or ill or have mobility problems and can not get out to worship.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Instill in our hearts this day the love that is needed to bring Pastoral Care those who are shut in and healing in our Church and community. May we bring Your love and Your joy into their lives so that together we bow down in awe and await for the birth of the Holy Infant. Amen.