Rev Olwen Woolcock

Sunday 18th October. A Service of prayer and reflection for the Feast of St Luke.

Sunday 18th October. A Service of prayer and reflection for the Feast of St Luke.

Sunday 18th October. A Service of prayer and reflection for the Feast of St Luke.

Feature Image:
Illustrated picture of St Luke from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

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Introduction

Good morning everyone. Welcome to a short service of prayer and reflection for the feast day of St Luke. Luke became a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys around the Mediterranean. He was a physician and became a gospel writer. He also wrote the Acts of Apostles and so tells both the story of Jesus and also the story of the early church. Luke’s books are full of stories of those who are made well in many different ways. Good stories to reflect upon as we weather a pandemic.

Our first hymn is a hymn of praise for God’s mercy. It was written by John Milton the poet, who lived through a time of both political upheaval and the plague.

Hymn: Let us with a gladsome mind

Greeting

The Lord be with you

We come to God in prayer

Lord Jesus, in your love you invite us to be your friends:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, in your joy you choose us to go out and bear fruit:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, in your power you send us to be your faithful witnesses:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May the God of love and power
forgive us and free us from your sins,
heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,
and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.
Amen

Collect for St Luke

Almighty God,
you called Luke the physician,
whose praise is in the gospel,
to be an evangelist and physician of the soul:
by the grace of the Spirit
and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel,
give your Church the same love and power to heal;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Gospel Reading

Luke 10:1-9

 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Reflection for St Luke’s Feast Day October 18th 2020

This passage sits especially uneasily with us at this particular time. If two people turned up on our doorsteps with the message ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you, we would ask them to leave and remind them of Covid regulations. Even in good times we’d do a double take. I doubt whether we would invite them to stay and feed them while they went around the town taking their strange message to the neighbours.

Because culturally this is not the Middle East with their long-standing traditions of hospitality and greeting. The description in Luke’s gospel of the mission of the seventy is hard to relate to. It makes us uncomfortable and insecure. In our culture people are taught to be wary of strangers.  Nor would we want to go door-stepping ourselves, expecting a welcome.

But this passage is set as the gospel reading for St Luke’s feast day. Mission and message are at the heart of his writings.  St Luke wrote a large chunk of the New Testament – he wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. In terms of sheer quantity of words more than any other writer – even Paul or John.  Two books following on from one another (though in the arrangement of the NT separated by the Gospel of John) – telling the story of the significance of the coming of Jesus and then in the Acts of the apostles, telling what happened next – after Jesus’ death and resurrection – the story of the early church. Luke was a gentile and a convert – a physician by profession and became a companion of Paul on some of his missionary journeys.

Luke’s gospel has its own flavour – as they all do. The stories that we hear in Luke’s gospel are some of the most loved.  It’s a gospel which speaks of welcome and forgiveness and second chances and opportunity and transformation. It is in Luke’s gospel that we find Zacchaeus, the tax collector who was so moved by his encounter with Jesus that he changed his life and returned his extorted taxes to the poor, we hear the story of the penitent thief who is forgiven even while hanging on the cross, and the story of the woman who entered the house of Simon the Pharisee and anointed Jesus as he sat at his dinner table. Her sins were forgiven her.

It is a gospel for the outsider and the disregarded. It is in Luke’s gospel that we hear the stories of the lost being found- the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son – told to the Pharisees when they criticised Jesus for eating with the sinners and tax collectors – as we’re told Jesus does again and again. It is in Luke’s gospel that we find the story of the Good Samaritan, where the Samaritan who is ostracised and despised for his race is the one who has compassion on a fellow human being in need.

And in a culture where women were over looked and kept in the background Luke tells of the encounters of many women with Jesus and his story – from Mary and Elizabeth, then Anna in the temple, to Martha and Mary, Jesus’ friends and the sisters of Lazarus. Luke names the women who followed Jesus from place to place, Joanna and Susanna and also those many other women whom Jesus healed – from Peter’s mother-in-law to the bent woman in the synagogue.

And it is through Luke that we hear of the gentiles who come to place their faith in Jesus – the Roman centurion who completely trusted Jesus to heal his servant and later on in Acts, the Ethiopian Eunuch who was baptised and the gentile household of Cornelius who were converted.

Luke’s gospel has a message – and that message is one of grace. Luke isn’t writing a regular history – he is writing a salvation history – he’s writing an account of the difference that Jesus makes when people encounter him, before and after his resurrection. The way in which people find their lives have changed as they are healed or forgiven or welcomed. That’s why the disciples were instructed to proclaim ‘the kingdom of God has come near’. It has come near in Jesus – and it is a kingdom where those on the outside find they have a place inside – where the rejected are welcomed, the guilty are freed from their past- and the hurt are made whole. This is the new way of being – the ‘kingdom’ – a place of restoration and potential that the people in the towns and villages were invited to receive. Those seventy were disciples were preparing the way for Jesus and his kingdom.

This salvation history continues through Acts. The second book echoes the first – the stories of grace are repeated – but after the resurrection. The disciples discover that they can do as Jesus did – they welcome and heal and baptise and Luke tells how the mission which was begun around the villages of Galilee now spreads throughout Asia Minor, then through Syria and Turkey through Greece to Rome – the centre of the Empire.

It’s an amazing story, Luke himself was a convert and two thousand years later we also are converts; those who have embraced the message, the inheritors of the Kingdom. We are the ones who know what difference Jesus can make, who can testify to an encounter with Jesus and a glimpse of the kingdom.  The grace continues – and so does the mission that’s part of our calling as Christians – to tell others. 

So how do we do it? Especially in the face of a pandemic which results in less contact with others rather than more? How can we communicate that grace and healing and hope and forgiveness which is the good news of the kingdom?

Our mission field isn’t far away – it is here.  It is among our neighbours in this community – in Ketton and Tinwell.  At this present time, it seems to me it is about friendship and connection in the safest way possible. Making the difference we can – especially to those who aren’t hearing much from anybody and who aren’t meeting many people.   We are the labourers – there are bridges to be built and there are people to welcome into the kingdom.

Remember we are not alone. Another of the great stories that runs through Luke’s writings is the story of the activity of the Holy Spirit through the first disciples and through the early church bringing God’s purposes to fulfilment. The Holy Spirit is active amongst us and within us as we bring Jesus to others.

God’s purpose doesn’t go away. Even with COVID inhibiting our lives, there is hope and healing to be found in our relationship with God and one another and that is something we can share.

Hymn: Here is love vast as the ocean

Prayers

Encouraged by our fellowship with all the saints,
let us make our prayers to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, your Son called men and women to leave the past behind
them and to follow him as his disciples in the way of the cross. Look
with mercy upon those whom he calls today, marks with the cross
and makes his disciples within the Church.
At this time, inspire us all to bring healing in Jesus’s name,
and make a difference to the wellbeing of others in whatever way it is possible for us to do.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your Son told his disciples not to be afraid and at Easter breathed on
them his gift of peace. Look with mercy upon the world into which
he sent them out, and give it that peace for which it longs.
Our world longs to be free from fear of infection, to be free from violence and conflict and
for its peoples to be in harmony with the earth. 
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your Son formed around him a company who were no longer
servants but friends, and he called all those who obeyed him his
brother and sister and mother. Look with mercy upon our families
and our friends and upon the communities in which we share. We pray for that day when we will be able to meet and mix freely as families and friends in freedom and with no fear. Have mercy on us as we endure the consequences of the pandemic.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your Son sent out disciples to preach and heal the sick. Look with
mercy on all those who yearn to hear the good news of salvation,
and renew among your people the gifts of healing. Heal those who are sick or suffering and who are known to us. Heal those suffering from illness as a result of Covid. Comfort those who are bereaved.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Your Son promised to those who followed him that they would sit
on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and would share the
banquet of the kingdom. According to your promise, look with
mercy on those who have walked with Christ in this life and now
have passed through death.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Almighty God,
Grant that your Church
may faithfully hold and make known
the faith that has come to us through the apostles,
that with them and all your saints
we may inherit the glories of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us

Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Amen
 

Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky

The Blessing

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.


Fanfare – Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens

 

One thought on “Sunday 18th October. A Service of prayer and reflection for the Feast of St Luke.

  1. Chris & Sara Barrett

    Thank you once again for our online service. We were not familiar with the passage from Luke and particularly appreciated the outline of the key messages of that reading and his gospel and the relevance of this for us today.

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