While the context demands some different ‘rules’ (These are basically common sense. For e.g., never sit on the bed, check with the nurse first if the patient wants to go for a walk outside with you, etc), hospital visiting is at core simply a more disinfected version of any other form of pastoral ministry. In other words, it is best approached as merely another form of the ministry of the Word (Calvin is very good on this). If you are ‘the minister’, remember that you are there neither to be a friend, nor to be a collared version of a Hallmark card. The former needs to bring fruit or flowers or the iPod charger and need not necessarily witness to anything beyond the friendship itself. And the latter is nothing more than expensive and/or pretentious BS. So resist the temptation to speak only of ‘happy’ things, leave your Mr Collins impersonations in the carpark, and try something oddly different for a change – tell the truth about things. Hospital patients, like most other human beings, don’t enjoy verbal debris. And those few who do will find no shortage of such from others in the hospital setting who like to keep both reality and the outside world at bay.