For the past three years my husband's grandma has been living in an assisted living facility (and now nursing home) about 25 miles from the church where she was baptized, confirmed, married, and baptized her children. Since she moved out of her apartment (where she was able to carpool to church) she has not received a shut-in call or Holy Communion. My in-laws took her to their church as she was able to go, but there are vast differences between beliefs about Holy Communion in Evangelical Free Church and the Lutheran Church*. For 95 years she has had faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and with that "forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation**." To be denied that comfort and opportunity seems wrong.
Perhaps it was an oversight, the church now has two pastors caring for four different regional congregations. Perhaps it just takes someone to ask...so today I called and left a message with the senior pastor. I explained that with her declining health and recent diagnosis of cancer that it would be very nice if Grandma could receive a shut in call and receive communion for one last time. I hope that I get a call back, and that one of the pastors will be able to follow through. I am a little surprised that no one else in the family requested a visit, but I guess if communion is just a symbolic gesture in one's religion then it might not seem like a big deal. My own grandmother once told me (in her blunt German way) that a service without Holy Communion wasn't worth attending. As an unconfirmed child I didn't really get it...but I do now. It is the reason to go to church on Sunday, and to hunger and thirst for three years seems so incredibly painful. I am kicking myself for not asking if she'd received shut-in visits earlier.
*I am an LCMS Lutheran, my husband's grandmother's congregation was rolled into the ELCA years ago. Despite our doctrinal differences (most of which would appall grandma), I have no doubt of her belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the benefits it affords.
**Luther's Small Catechism, 1986, Concordia Publishing House