Yesterday, as many pastors do, I was out visiting people who were in the hospital. It was a busier afternoon than usual, as I had five people to visit in three different area hospitals. I drove about a hundred miles getting around to everyone. The good news: everyone was recovering and improving and looking forward to going home soon. The not-so-good news: the effort it took to find out who needed a visit and where they were. Spoiler alert: this is a rant, so you can decide if you want to read further or not.
You see, none of those folks called, texted, messaged or communicated with me. I found out about each second- or third-hand. Now is that because I live off the digital grid? No. I’ve got my cell phone with me and my number’s out there on all our publications. I get texts, check Facebook messages, scroll often through my Twitter feed and do Snapchat, Plus I get mail delivered to my house and have a phone on my desk at the church.
I got some of the information through our church’s email prayer chain. I got another tip when someone casually mentioned at Bible class, “Did you hear that so-and-so was in the hospital?” At one hospital visit a family member mentioned to me, “I saw his wife here at the hospital.” Sure enough, he was there. I wasn’t the last to find out. But I wasn’t at the top of the list, either.
So here we are in a world with so much communication, and so little real communication happening. Why is that? I’ve got a few theories.
- Some mistakenly think that since pastors speak prophetically, they also receive direct communication from the omniscient God. I do — from the scriptures. But not about your hospital stay. (This one was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but just a bit.)
- Some don’t want to bother me because I’m so busy. I’m not sure where you got that idea. If I’m busy, it’s because I am trying to track down people in the hospital. You could actually save me a lot of time by calling.
- Some don’t know my number. OK, that’s legitimate. We don’t know any numbers anymore. We store them in our phones by name. You didn’t know you were going to be sick, so you didn’t save my number in your phone. But I’ll bet you know someone who did.
- Some think they’ll just be in the hospital for a day or so. No biggie. Until you are still there a week later. Better to play it safe and give me a call on the front end. It breaks my heart when I hear, “I’ve been here in the hospital for six days.”
- Some think that the hospitals will call me and let me know. Not any more. Privacy dictates that. It’s all on you.
Illness, injury, dying — all are the effects of sin in this world. Your sin, not just someone else’s. I’ve been called (you called me) to call it what it is through preaching Law and Gospel. A little time in the hospital reminds you of your mortality and need for a Savior. I look forward to a little time in the hospital with you to remind you of and proclaim the Savior who heals and restores physical and spiritual life, not just here but for eternity. I look forward to a little time in the hospital with you, with His body and blood in the sacrament, that transforms an ordinary room into the holy ground of His presence.
So call (or text, message, or tweet) me.