Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A short service for Sunday 18th October 2020 celebrating Luke the Evangelist

A short service for Sunday 18th October 2020 celebrating Luke the Evangelist

Gathering and Greeting

Sing to the Lord, and praise him,

Proclaim his glory to all the world,

For the Lord is great and highly to be praised.

Sing to the Lord, sing a new song to the Lord.

May the grace of God be among us,

And the peace of God be on our hearts.

Amen.

Hymn

For all the saints,

who from their labours rest,

who thee by faith

before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus,

be forever blest.

Alleluia Alleluia!


O blest communion!

Fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle,

they in glory shine;

yet all are one in thee,

for all are thine.

William Walsham How (1823-1897)

A prayer of confession

We confess before you, O God, that we are not always a good example of what it is to be a Christian.

We do not feel worthy that others should follow us. And yet, Lord, you encourage us to share your love and reveal your truth and lead others to you.

We confess that we fail, and we are sorry.

We confess our inadequacies and carelessness in standing up for what is right against what is wrong.

Forgive us, Lord, and guide us in the ways of truth and justice.

We want to be a good example, a shining example of what it means to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Amen.

Psalm 147

In Praise of God the Almighty

Praise the Lord!

It is good to sing praise to our God;

it is pleasant and right to praise him.

2 The Lord is restoring Jerusalem;

he is bringing back the exiles.

3 He heals the broken-hearted

and bandages their wounds.

4 He has decided the number of the stars

and calls each one by name.

5 Great and mighty is our Lord;

his wisdom cannot be measured.

6 He raises the humble,

but crushes the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing hymns of praise to the Lord;

play music on the harp to our God.


Bible reading Luke 10.1-9

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

10 After this the Lord chose another seventy-two[a] men and sent them out two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 He said to them, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest. 3 Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Don't take a purse or a beggar's bag or shoes; don't stop to greet anyone on the road. 5 Whenever you go into a house, first say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ 6 If someone who is peace-loving lives there, let your greeting of peace remain on that person; if not, take back your greeting of peace. 7 Stay in that same house, eating and drinking whatever they offer you, for workers should be given their pay. Don't move around from one house to another. 8 Whenever you go into a town and are made welcome, eat what is set before you, 9 heal the sick in that town, and say to the people there, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you.’


Talk

One of the common features of the worldwide church in many of her different denominations, are the festivals and celebrations generously spread across the yearly calendar that commemorate the lives of the saints. There are dates and special prayers set aside to remember the important faith building contributions of saints who have gone before us. Those who have handed down the Christian faith to us in the form of scripture, study and testimony. This is a great gift spreading out from the oral tradition of teaching, prevalent in Jesus’ day, to the bibles and prayer book that we have available today.

On this particular day the church celebrates the life of Luke the Evangelist. Tradition has it that Luke is the author of Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Treasured books that form part of the bible that we know and love today.

Luke never met Jesus, but in the first chapter of his gospel Luke writes these words in the form of a letter to explain his motivation for recording the events of Jesus’ life and ministry

“Dear Theophilus:

Many people have done their best to write a report of the things that have taken place amongst us. They wrote what we have been told by those who saw these things from the beginning and who proclaimed the message. And so, your Excellency, because I have carefully studied all these matters from the beginning, I thought it would be good to write an orderly account for you. I do this so that you will know the full truth about everything which you have been taught” (Luke 1.1-4). These words of Luke are profound and his final comment about his account that, “you will know the full truth about everything which you have been taught”, wonderfully describes the purpose of Holy Scriptures and the gospels in particular. It is easy to be dismissive or forgetful about the saints that have gone before us and the faithful understanding that they acquired, but where would we be without Luke and his like? Is the occasion of this special day in memory of Luke not an opportunity to count our blessings and to give thanks for the rich tradition of faith which has been handed down to us and upon which our own understanding is based.

As we ponder Luke the gospel writer today, I wonder whether you have a favorite gospel that you turn to again and again. A gospel whose presentation and style connects with you in a way that the others do not. A gospel you turn to in times of trouble and hardship and which somehow anchors your faith in the storms of life.

Different gospels offer different perspectives. Luke’s presentation of Jesus stresses his compassion to the outcast, to the poor and to all who bear a burden. Some of the most famous stories about Jesus are found in Luke’s gospel. We have the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10.29-37), which redefines our understanding of what it is to obey God’s core commandment which is to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We have the story of The Lost Son or The Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-42), which redefines our understanding of forgiveness and the depth of God’s love for his creation. Where would we be without these insights recorded and offered to us by Luke? Here is a skilled evangelist opening up our hearts and our understanding to the nature and identity of Jesus, forming connections, which allow the seeds of faith to germinate and grow.

We see the fruit of this in our gospel reading where we have a description of Jesus sending out 72 followers, perhaps the entire community immediately around him, to visit every town and place that Jesus was about to visit. They were not solely a warm up act for Jesus, the main event, who was following up behind. They had a mission. They were to pray, to heal the sick and to proclaim to the people there that “The Kingdom of God has come near you” (verse 9).

There is much that could be said about this passage, but I will finish with just three thoughts.

Firstly, in the context of mission and sharing our Christian faith, prayer is key. Jesus tells those gathered around him to “pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather his harvest in” (verse 2). Here we are reminded that prayer must always precede action.

Secondly, mission is everyone’s responsibility and not a specialism given to just a few. Jesus sends out 72, perhaps the whole congregation gathered around him and he says go. What if in our day, whole congregations responded in a similar way, and there were prayers and conversations about the Kingdom of God in our local streets and houses. How different things could be.

Thirdly, here we find the purpose of mission spelt out, which is to proclaim peace and declare that the Kingdom of God has come near to you. The task of mission is to transform lives and relationships and supremely our relationship with God. It is to know personally that the Kingdom of God has come near and to desire our reservation in it.

So as we reflect upon the contribution of Luke and the task of mission, consider how you can respond to both today. Amen.

Rev Mike Sermon Vicar St Paul’s Church Blackheath

Prayers

Lord God, in our corner of the world it isn’t easy to really feel the pain of persecution for our faith, but we know that it happens.

We pray for those who are persecuted and punished, violated and scarred because of their faith.

We pray for those who despite these things speak out and speak up, and witness to you, the living God.

We pray for the families of these people that they may be given strength and support in their own faith and discipleship.

We pray for those who teach us of you, who unpack your truths, who explain what living a Christian life is and how to follow you. Especially today we give you thanks for Luke the Evangelist.

We pray for those who guide us in times of struggles with our faith, those who stand by us in times of denial and bewilderment.

We pray for those who are dying in the faith, and those who are struggling to find their faith before they die.

For these and all your witnesses, Lord, we pray. Amen.

A final prayer

Into a world of confusion and disbelief,

into a world of welcome and rejection,

we take the grace of God that has been among us,

and the peace of God that has been on our hearts.

Amen.

Hymn

The Church’s one foundation

is Jesus Christ, her Lord;

she is his new creation,

by water and the word;

from heav’n he came and sought her

to be his holy bride,

with his own blood he brought her,

and for her life he died.


Yet she on earth hath union

with God the Three in One,

and mystic sweet communion

with those whose rest is won:

O happy ones and holy! Lord,

give us grace that we

like them, the meek and lowly,

on high may dwell with thee.

Samuel John Stone (1839-1900)


Let us go in peace,

In the name of Christ. Amen.

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Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society