Your Pastor is involved in much of your life. He is there when you are baptized and granted the new life of salvation in Jesus. He is there each week preaching the Word of God leading you to a life of repentance and toward a confidence in Christ’s redeeming work. He is there teaching you as a catechumen the truth of Scripture and the Small Catechism so that you may confess the Lutheran faith and be welcomed into the communion fellowship of the congregation. He is there administering the Sacrament of the Altar so that through receiving the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins you may grow strong in faith and in love for your neighbor. He is there to hear your confession of sin and to forgive you of those sins in the stead and by the command of Christ. He is there teaching Bible Class so that all your life you may grow in the knowledge of the truth of God’s Word, flee from false teachers and teaching, and be guided throughout life by the Scriptures which are a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. He is there when you are dying as he proclaims the victory of Jesus over death and the grave so that you may, with Jesus, entrust your spirit into the hands of your Heavenly Father.
From the beginning of your life until its end your Pastor is there so that you might have faith in Jesus. That’s what your Pastor has been called by Jesus to do.
There is another time in your life when your Pastor is there—when you are sick, hospitalized, or facing surgery. In fact, a very important part of your Pastor’s work “during the week” is making calls on the sick.
Why does your Pastor want you to call him when you are sick? Why does he visit you when you are hospitalized? Why does he meet with you when you are preparing for surgery? The reason may not be what you think.
Your Pastor doesn’t come to visit so that the surgery is more successful. He’s not a good luck charm; the result of your surgery or sickness will be the same whether he is there or not. You entrust yourself into the hands of physicians, nurses, and other caregivers who will be God’s instruments of mercy and who will care for your body.
Your Pastor doesn’t come to visit so that he can pray better or more effectively than you can. Yes, of course he will pray. God desires that you pray in times of need. But know this without any doubt: your Pastor’s prayers are not heard any more loudly or clearly by God than those from you or from any other Christian. Your Pastor is not nearer to God, nor does he have special privileges with Him. One of the reasons he does pray with you and for you is that in times of weakness, sickness, fear, or doubt, it is hard to pray. Your Pastor doesn’t come to visit you so that you won’t die. God has not promised that you will not face death, and all of the visits from your Pastor won’t keep that from happening if it is God’s will.
So why does your Pastor want you to call him when you are sick? Why does he visit you when you are hospitalized? Why does he meet with you when you are preparing for surgery? Your Pastor visits for the same reason that he is there in all those other times in your life—so that your faith in Jesus may be strengthened by the Word and Sacraments. That’s it. That’s all there is. That’s all you need: faith in Jesus!
The next time you are sick, or in need, or facing surgery—please, call your Pastor.
A blessed Epiphany!