Sunday, July 29, 2007

Self-Denial in Pastoral Care

Today I had my first hospital call as a pastor. I used the rite from the Pastoral Care Companion, including private confession, anointing with oil and the Lord's Supper. I, obviously, have never done this before. Oh, sure, I've visited a lot of people in the hospital, but it has always been with my own words and thoughts and prayers. There is something uniquely holy about denying ourselves and giving people only God's holy gifts. It goes against the very core of our nature. I felt awkward and inept, but I had delivered what I am called to deliver: God's Word and His Sacraments. It would have been easier for me to go and visit this young parishioner as a common guy, in regular clothes, speaking regulare words that I made up, peppered with God's Holy Word. It would have been more comfortable perhaps for both of us if I would have left the communion kit at home (and the anointing oil), but it would not have been what I am called to do.

It's hard to be a pastor because we HAVE to deny ourselves to better serve God's Word. Certainly, He does use our abilities and unique personalities, but ONLY to serve His Word. There is a constant danger of pastors forgetting what they are called to do, and there is forgiveness for that, but should we continue to sin so that grace may abound? You know the answer to that.

I will continue to do things personally uncomfortable. Someday, God in His mercy will conform me to His holiness in Christ. Lord, have mercy!

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