St. Luke's Day - Carry out your ministry fully

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Lord, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of all our hearts be acceptable to you, our strength and our redeemer - Amen

Today we celebrate our patron saint - St. Luke the evangelist

            The date was the 18th for those keeping track, but this Sunday is the closest to that

For those that have been part of the parish of St. Luke for more then a year - you will recognize that we read the same readings each year at this time

            I imagine that preaching on this day often falls on the curate - allowing a new take on       familiar words of scripture

                        I am sure that you would have heard sermons that focus on a couple of main                                  themes that the scripture brings out about Luke, who was known as a Physician

Our passage from the Book of Sirach tells us that we are to honour physicians for their service - that the Lord created them and their gift of healing comes from the Most high

            Even the medicines that are used, are all part of God creation, and the sensible will not     despise them.

                        There is a message of honouring what God has created

                                    God’s gifts….

                                    God’s creation…        ….       ….

There is an opportunity in the Gospel - written by Luke - to speak about Jesus’ time in his hometown of Nazareth

            Where Jesus read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and in two verses he reads that

      • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
      • to bring good news to the poor.
      • proclaim release to the captives
      • recovery of sight to the blind,
      • let the oppressed go free,
      • proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

            Powerful message - a mission statement if you like

                        the work of the coming messiah

                                    I am sure that you have heard sermons that focus on the social justice                                             aspect of Jesus’ ministry

                                                That Jesus is bringing in a new way of life

                                                That Jesus, himself IS the manifestation, the incarnation of the year                                                of jubilee

                                                            - year of the Lord’s favor      

But for my chance at St. Luke’s day I want to focus on something different

            I want to look at part of the message of 2nd Timothy and at St. Luke himself

We know that Luke was the writer of the Gospel, thus making him an evangelist

            And the writer of the Acts of the Apostles

                        Making him the largest contributor to the New Testament

                                    Mores pages in these two books of the Bible then all of St. Paul’s letters

                        But we really don’t know that much about Luke

                                    And might I suggest … that is exactly as it should be

In my studies this week I have come to the opinion that St. Luke is an ideal model of Christian minister and ideal for us here, in Burlington, in this church named after him

            Ideal - because of what he represents

What we know about St. Luke from scripture, that he was one of St. Paul’s companions

            From Philemon verse 24, we have a list: Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus,     sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow    workers.”

                        From Colosians 4:14 we are told of “Luke, the beloved physician”

And from our reading today of 2nd Timothy 4: Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia……

            “Only Luke is with me.”

From the book of Acts of the Apostles, a narrative - highly historical book - which Luke wrote, we are told of the journeys of Paul

            The story is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts, however there are   three sections             where this changes,

                        It starts in Acts 16, in verses 8-9 we hear of Paul's company as we have always                              before

                                    "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul                                           had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and                                               saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' "

                                                Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we":

                        "When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia,                              being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."

This change and the repeatedly use the word "we" in describing the Pauline missions in three sections of the Acts, indicating that he was personally there at those times.

            After this, other then a few references to Gentile fellow workers which is vaguely             identified as being Luke. We have nothing

                        There are conflicting traditional views of where Luke lived after Paul’s death

                                    - conflicting views on how old he lived

                                    - and whether he was martyred or not

Ultimately this is not important

You see - Luke’s legacy - is not himself

- BUT who he served and the message that he delievered

            Luke is known as a physcian - yes - but most significantly as an evangelist

                        As a writer of Good News …that God loves us so much that he came as one of us

                                    To live

                                    and teach

                                    and commission us - sending us out empowered, equipped to share God’s                                      blessed message

                                                To die the most painful death for us - for our sins

                                                            and then to defeat death

                                                                        and show us what in this life is truly deadly

                                                                        - what is of this world

                                                                        - and what is of God’s eternal kingdom

St. Luke brought US and all eternity - that message

            And He wrote empowered by the Holy Spirit about how that message transformed the     lives of those that were convinced of the gospel by faith

                        He also, wrote about people in which Faith didn’t not take hold of their lives

  • We know a little from scripture about Luke  
  • We have a great deal from the pen of St. Luke - the life and times and people that knew the Lord Jesus Christ….And His message

When John the Baptist was questioned about Jesus he said

            “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

                        And this is precisely the witness we have from St. Luke

                                    Luke’s message was not about himself but about Jesus

Last week we heard from Canon Michael Patterson, the director of evangelism in the diocese

            His message was that we are to live out our baptismal responsibility in being an      evangelist

                        Most of us not in the stereotypical way of standing on a soap box in the city                                  center calling out for all to hear

                                    …But where God placed you

                                                With the gifts that God gave you

            If you are a businessperson - in how you conduct yourself

            If a teacher on how you teach

            A scientist - on your comitment to the truth

            A doctor - the way you treat people and use your knowledge in the gift of healing

                        In any .. and all roles - being a witness to the Good news that Jesus is Lord and                             has transformed your heart

                                    Using ‘your-share-of-gifts’ - to the Glory of God

                                                As Francis of Assiss says - always be proclaiming the gospel, if                                                       necessary use words

St Luke, in whom we celebrate today, did this

            Once converted he used his artistic ability with words and his attention to details to tell    the tale

                        - to become an evangelist

Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor,

            who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all,

            who respected women,

            and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.

Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke.

            Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed   father.

            Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing            Jesus' feet with her tears.

                        Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return                           to God's mercy.

                                    And in Luke’s Gospel we have the message of faith as a journey - with the                                     theme expressed in Jesus’s stages of life journeying towards Jerusalem

St. Paul instructs us in the passage from 2nd Timothy read today

            always be sober, or - control yourself at all times

            endure suffering,

                        do the work of an evangelist,

                        carry out your ministry fully

Brothers and Sisters in Christ - wherever God has planted you - whatever gifts, skills or opportunities God has put in your grasp

            do the work of an evangelist, …as our patron saint - Luke did

                        carry out your ministry fully

            fight the good fight…   finish the race… keep the faith

                        and longing for the Lord’s appearing - there is in-reserve already - a crown of                                 righteousness - which the Lord the righteous judge will give to you

Brothers and Sisters in Christ be inspired by our patron saint Luke …

            Carry out your ministry fully   - Amen

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