Distraction or enhancement?
Very often if I am preaching twice on Sunday, I will try to rest up a little in the afternoon. Preaching is a demanding task, both physically and mentally, and I like to give it my best. Yesterday afternoon, however, I had to make a hospital visit to someone in real need. This meant that a day which started with the promise of God’s presence (Isaiah 41 v.10) and ended with a warning on materialism (Ecclesiastes 6) was punctuated with a visit to the bedside.
The thing is, far from being a distraction it was an enhancement. I looked back on the morning’s truths with greater clarity and saw the evening’s warning with greater conviction. My time at the bedside was the best kind of preparation ever. When preaching and pastoring are stitched together there are times when both can benefit. Not only that, but each depends on the other. The preaching provides pastoral medicine, and the pastoral encounter provides ‘ballast’ for the preaching, lest it float off into the ether.
The two are interwoven, like the birds flying to and fro in Escher’s print Day and Night (1938) below. It is impossible to say where either begins or ends – but each would be poorer without the other.