The Feast of St Luke – Jesus sends 72 out to preach and heal
It is great when you get to the point where you can introduce a classic board game to be played by the whole family together. Yesterday we got Monopoly out to play as a family for the first time. Of course, as a result, there may never be peace in the Vicarage again. In the midst of the buying, the selling, the bartering and the competition to make your competitors bankrupt. Suddenly grudges are born. And one remembers the efforts that sometimes need to be made to make amends with friends and family after particularly passionate board games. The aim, being so individualistic, so extremely uncharitable, is of course an enjoyable diversion. Thankfully it isn’t how most of us live our lives. It is completely at odds with Jesus’ commandment to the seventy disciples he sends out in today’s Gospel, to start by offering peace, to accept whatever they are given and when peace is not offered, to simply turn around and carry on to the next town.
Perhaps appropriately as we enter Tier 2, the so-called high level of Covid alert, today is the feast of St Luke the Evangelist. St Luke, who is recorded to have been a physician, a doctor, a healer. Could we think of a time when the world was in greater need of a healer. But what kind of healer are we called to be.
The disciples are sent out to heal the sick and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven has come near. They are told to offer peace as they enter into each house. A far cry from what is muttered when you land on somebody else’s square in Monopoly. And if that peace is not shared, not to retaliate or to curse, but to move on to the next town. Luke’s two part Gospel, that is the Gospel and the book of the Acts of the Apostles, are full of stories of healing. And vivid stories of personal friendships, they are also full of poetry and song, like the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Nunc Dimittis – familiar in Morning and Evening Prayer, with phrases like:
‘Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, who has come to his people and set them free.’ and ‘He has shown strength with his arm and scattered the proud in their conceit, … He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.’ and of course – ‘Lord let your servant depart in peace, your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.’
Of course, being a physician, Luke doesn’t only talk about healing in that physical way which pops into people’s heads when we use the word. Miraculously making the blind see and the deaf hear. Luke’s stories of healing go beyond that. Fixing a bone, or medicating for disease is only one aspect of the kind of healing which those who work on the frontline know needs administering. Healing is linked to our relationship with each other. To our relationship with ourselves and ultimately our relationship with the whole of creation and the God who created it. Luke was a disciple of Paul’s, who seemingly never meets Jesus himself, but passes on the stories he has been told. He offers his message as a sign of hope, reaching out to all the world, from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond.
Luke is referred to as an evangelist. Somebody who brings Good News, because he is attributed with the writing of one of the Gospels. For Luke this story of Jesus – and with it the message that the kingdom of God has come near – is good news for all. That is not to say he is some miracle cure healing preacher who wants to convince us of Jesus’ divinity by signs of his power. Luke wants us to see that Jesus is in the world compassionately working to heal it from the ground up. Trying to heal our relationships with one another and with the one who creates us. He is the writer who chooses to share Jesus’ parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
For Luke, healing begins with hope and love and charity. By walking into a room of strangers and declaring Peace be with you. For Luke healing begins with Christ forgiving us and calling us back to God. For Luke, healing begins with a knowledge that God loves us and that with God we are not alone. As such we can overcome the fear of what might harm us which would otherwise limit and restrain us.
So what would Luke say in a time of pandemic. Perhaps it would simply be ‘Peace be with you.’ Perhaps it would be ‘Be not afraid’. But he would also be there next to us in our despair, like he stayed with Paul when he was in prison. And he would be reassuring us that God was near at hand
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
John 20:19-end Thomas the TwinWeekly Services Sunday Mornings 8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School Weekday Services Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10amSaid Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00amEvening...
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