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A visit to the nearby ends of the earth

Earlier this week I made all my drop-in homebound visits. Time to move on to my “make an appointment” “spend a little more time” “sit down over a meal” visits. Today I headed out to see Mr. and Mrs. “H”, an appointment I made a few weeks ago, wedged in between many doctor appointments.

I’ve known the “H’s” for about twenty years, and they are my members who live the farthest from the church. They live about an hour drive from the church. For many years they faithfully made that drive to worship with us. But for the last few years, they haven’t been able to attend as often. It’s been eight months since they were able to make the drive.

I remembered the route today, so I didn’t need a GPS to get to their house. It’s a drive through a lot of undeveloped areas of north central Florida. I drove through wooded areas, potato farms. I passed a number of hispanic convenience stores and fern farms, as well as many, many small Baptist churches. Old Florida at its best, as if time stood still. I finally arrived in their small home not far from Lake George, a bass fishing mecca.

Both were actually doing better than I expected. I brought some subs with me for lunch, since in previous visits, they insisted on feeding me. I didn’t think they were up for that, but they still made some strawberry shortcake for dessert. Their little toy poodle was ecstatic to see me, but was relegated to her crate when it was time to get serious.

After about 40 minutes of small talk and extensive medical updates, I did a brief devotion, confession and absolution, and gave holy communion. While they were able to listen to religious programming via the internet, they do not have access to the sacrament, something very important to them. It’s a privilege to bring the means of grace to them.

We had a nice meal together, chatted a lot about possible assisted living scenarios, and caught up on neighbors and church family. One thing hasn’t changed. They have not lost their sense of humor. They never fail to make me laugh! That is their precious gift to me. Of course, I learned long ago that those I go to visit often minister more to me than I to them. They love to hear stories about what’s going on at church and how everyone is doing. I know they miss their church family!

After about two hours there, I thanked them for allowing me to come and headed home. The next time I see them will probably be at a hospital, since some surgery is on their schedule in a few weeks. Visits like this make me realize that some of the most faithful and devout members of a church are rarely able to attend on a Sunday morning. Also, God can create sacred space in the most modest of homes around Word and Sacrament. Finally, my physical presence means the world to them, connecting them with their church family.

It was a really good visiting day.

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