St Luke the Evangelist 18th October 2015

 

Over the last couple of months I have been thinking about this church and what it is that we might focus on. I am cautious of management speak in the Church and don’t particularly want to start creating mission statements and so forth. But perhaps some ongoing aspirations might be useful?

So I have spoken with the wardens, serving teams and clergy about an approach I am calling the 3 H’s. Holiness, Hospitality and Healing.

Recently we have focused quite a bit on hospitality. Harvest calls us to a ministry of radical hospitality, and last week I suggested that the Church needs to constantly ensure that it is ‘building longer tables and not higher fence.’ I believe with every fibre of my being that a truly hospitable Church will thrive and grow.

I also believe that an inhospitable Church will be a diminishing Church, not only numerically but also spiritually. So hospitality –radical all embracing - hospitality is crucial.

 

But so is the ministry of healing and, of course St Luke is the patron saint of physicians. As a Church we can learn an awful lot about two of our three H’s from the narrative that surrounds St. Luke. To quote again from the extract I read at the beginning of the service:

The distinctive theology found in Paul’s writings is virtually unknown in those of Luke but, as a gentile, Luke makes clear that the good news of salvation is for all regardless of gender, social position or nationality

And this must be the basis of our approach as a Church if we are to take hospitality and healing seriously. Our hospitality must be offered to all, fool stop. And, the Church must be both a place, and a people, committed to the healing of all hurts, wounds, grievances and resentments:

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you, heal the sick who are there and say to them the ‘kingdom of God has come near you.’

 

Let me finish with two distinct challenges Luke might pose us:

First Luke, as gentile, knew what it meant to be excluded by the religious elite. We must make sure that we continually look out for the modern day gentiles – our outsiders - in our midst. We must also always avoid the tendency to regard ourselves as insiders, or members of some form of Christian elite. Luke with his stress on all rejects the idea of religious superiority. We too must shatter all such concepts, if we are serious about hospitality and healing they must be an anathema.

Secondly, we must recognise, as Luke did in his role as evangelist, that we, the Church, Christ’s body on earth, in the here and now, offer the hospitality and healing of God. We are simply the means through which Jesus’ love may be transmitted.

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you, heal the sick who are there and say to them the ‘kingdom of God has come near you.’

It is the hospitality of God and his healing touch that we must communicate and, that mandates growth in holiness.

So there you have it, my three aspirations for this Church: holiness, hospitality and healing. I have a sense that if we commit to these three it might make a big and enduring difference. Amen.

 

Rev. Andrew Lightbown