Sermon – St Luke the Evangelist

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, cure the sick who are there, and say to them “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
Today, the church celebrates the feast day of St Luke, gospel writer, doctor and patron saint to those in the medical professions. So when he wrote those lines from Jesus, ‘cure the sick, and say to them “The kingdom of God has come near to you” I’m sure he saw no problems.
To me, half of that command seems a lot easier than the other.
Richard, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you’
Kirsty, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you’
Everyone, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you’
Simples!
That’s half the work done, surely?
So that just leaves me with, cure the sick.
Being a doctor himself, for St Luke, curing the sick was a common occurrence, heck, without it he’d be out of a job.
But as far as I’m aware, I do not possess any special gifts of healing. It would be quite cool if I did. I could walk around, laying on hands, perform some miracles. Regrettably though, I’ve not been able to speak to someone in a wheelchair and convince them to stand up and dance around.
But this is the command that Jesus gives to the 70 odd as he sends them out to the villages and towns ahead of him. He doesn’t say, if you have the gifts, cure the sick. No, no, no. Jesus says ‘cure the sick, and say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come near”’. So there must be more to this.
For many, Luke’s gospel is the cream of the crop when it comes to the gospel writers. He is a great story teller for one. Theological discourse is all well and good, but it’s the good story, told well that we remember and recall most vividly.
And partly due to his skills in storytelling, Luke gives us a gospel that can directly challenge us, our culture and society today.
And that is because, he deals in everyday life.
The gospel he recounts to us, deal with human frailty, and family life. He speaks to the core of our engagement with the world. He brings to life, the holiness of our everyday lives.
Chapter 10 of Luke’s gospel makes up his longest musings on the nature of mission and ministry, and becomes one of the foundational blocks for the churches mission for centuries to come.
Cure the sick, and say to them “The Kingdom of God has come near”
Go and act, go physically, practically and help them, and then tell them to word of God.
Action & Word; the mission of the church.
Neither fully bring people to God when they stand alone.
How helpful is it really, to tell the family struggling with mounting debts, or the recently bereaved, or the homeless person in need of a hot meal that the Kingdom of God is at hand? Simply telling them doesn’t do very much.
And likewise the other way around, acts are lovely and helpful, but if the recipient doesn’t know that you work for God, how will they ever know where to direct their praise?
Action and word go hand in hand.
Cure the sick, and say to them “The Kingdom of God has come near”

Without special, specific, gifts for physical healing, we need to find another way that this command works.
But the one thing I do know, is that all of us in this world, in varying degrees, and at particular times in our lives, are sick. We are all sick, and we are all in need of healing.
And our illnesses come in a wide myriad of different forms. From coughs and colds, to illness’ that debilitate us.

Loneliness and isolation, even when surrounded by hundreds. Depression. Despair.

The inability to switch off, even in times of holiday and supposed rest.

Separation, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

That feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach when you’ve done wrong to another, and that feeling that injures when another has wronged you.
Our illnesses can take more forms then we can count.
And Christ has come to heal every one of them, and restore us to his image again.
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.
A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.”
An objective person came along and said, “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.”
A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into a pit.”
A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit.
A news reporter wanted an exclusive story on his pit.
A government official asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.”
An optimist said, “Things could be worse.”
A pessimist said, “Things will get worse.”
Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand, lifted him out of the pit and said go on your way!
Action and word is the work of this church. And if we are truly the body of Christ in this world, then this is our work.
We all fall in pits from time to time. What counts is what we do to help get each other out.
And for any of you who feel in the pit, after this service there is a time of anointing and prayers for healing in the shrine.
Jesus said, ‘cure the sick, and say to them ‘the kingdom of God has come near.’ Yes Lord. Amen.

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sallyjjones

Minor Canon Youth Chaplain at St Albans Cathedral. Dog owner, historian, technology geek, pilgrim.

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