Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dear and glorious

Christians keep alive the memory and example of the saints. This Sunday, 18 October, is St Luke's Day.
Readings for Sunday 18th October, St Luke's Day can include Jeremiah 8:22-9:3; Psalm 145:10-18, 2 Tim 4:9-17, Luke 1:1-4, Luke 10:1-9; Luke 24:44-53
We know surprisingly little about most saints, but about St Luke we can glean quite a lot.
He is the writer of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
He does not seem to have been a Jew, but became an adherent of Christianity fairly early in the piece.
We don't know whether he actually met Jesus, it seems unlikely
his major association is with St Paul
and we can glean from the Acts of the Apostles
that he actually travelled with Paul
on some significant journeys
we know this partly through the 'we' passages.
They are where we can detect a grammatical change
he stop saying "they" did this and "they" did that
and says "we" did this.
(This may be a 'literary convention' but it seems more likely that Luke was actually present for some of these events at least)
His Gospel is quite well written and structured
and he seems (for example) to have some pretty important themes to explore:
like care for the poor, the role of women, the place of children
and the spread of the Gospel.
We know from the text that he was probably a physician,
and novelist Taylor Caldwell wrote a charming book based on his life
called "Dear and Glorious Physician"
Strangely he does not write much, or specifically, about the actual ministry of healing
even though he is quite naturally associated with that aspect of Christian life.
Most of this is "by way of background"
but I make some observations:
1. We believe in the communion of saints
It is a basic tenet of Christianity that we are a community ...we call ourselves the communion of saints
For us, the saints are not only those who, like Luke, have died
but all those people who are bound to Christ through baptism
the grave does not separate us from God
or from each other,
We pray together, with and for each other and for God's work.
Some might be better at this than others, but it is the duty of us all
to praise God and pray for the coming of the kingdom!
2. We are all called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus
Luke happens to have written his account of the Christian Life
but the evangelists remind us that we are all to tell the story
3. Luke tells us the story from his particular perspective
The casual reader is always struck by the fact that each Gospel...Matthew, Mark, John and Luke
have similarities
but they also differ.
Luke's particular emphases are important for us to consider,
they remind us that the Gospel is a living tradition
and each of us needs to work it through in our own context.
For Luke: the concern of the poor, the spread of the Gospel outside Judaism,
the need for 'labourers in the harvest'
were important emphases....each saint lays the emphasis in differing ways.
What might your emphasis be?
4. The saints encourage each other
One striking feature of Luke's ministry is his encouragement
those plaintive words of St a low point in his ministry
Only Luke is with me!
Remind us that solidarity is often the greatest gift that friends and family can give to each other
Do we take out Christian by and for the other saints seriously?

We give thanks for St Luke
Commit ourselves to work out what it means to be Christian in our lives
to the spread of the Gospel
to be a labourer
and to be faithful.

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