Search Results for: luke

October 18 – Luke

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Luke, witness to Jesus

Luke (‘the beloved physician’)
(Greek: Loukas = luminous, white)

The name Luke occurs only three times in our New Testament (Philemon 24, ‘. . . Demas and Luke, my fellow workers’; Col 4:14, ‘Luke the beloved physician’; and 2 Timothy 4:11, ‘Only Luke is with me’), but authorship of the third gospel (and by association, The Acts of the Apostles) is also attributed to him from early times. Part of the evidence for this claim comes from the ‘we’ passages in Acts 16:20-21 and 27 onwards, describing sea voyages with Paul, where it seems that the author himself suddenly joins the story in Troas. Luke remains with Paul until the end (Acts 28:16 and 2 Timothy 4:11), though he refrains from telling us the sad story of Paul’s death.

Further evidence in support of these connections is given in the Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospel of Luke, containing the following Greek section that may date as early as the second century:

Luke: a native of Antioch, by profession a physician. He had become a disciple of the apostle Paul and later followed Paul until his (Paul’s) martyrdom. Having served the Lord continuously, unmarried and without children, filled with the Holy Spirit, he died at the age of 84 years in Boeotia (Greece).

It was Luke’s genius that set the story of Jesus in the wider world of the Roman Empire (Luke 2:1; 3:1) and then continued it into the story of the earliest followers (Acts). He did this in sensitive continuity with the Jewish traditions, yet in a way that rehabilitated Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, as the great missionary who took the Gospel beyond the boundaries of Judea.

We owe to Luke’s research and 2-volume narrative the conceptual and chronological framework for our understanding of the events following Jesus’ death: from Passover to Pentecost, from First Fruits to the full harvest. We also are indebted to Luke’s honesty for our awareness of the considerable tensions between the earliest communities of Jesus-followers (Acts 6:15; and 21, for example), and for his vibrant portrayal of the movement of God’s Spirit amongst diverse ethnic groups — a movement which the Apostles sometimes struggled to comprehend and affirm.

Traditionally, Luke has been the patron saint of artists, physicians, students, teachers and butchers (Feast Day, October 18). Given the particular emphasis of the Lukan tradition, we might also suggest he should be seen today as patron saint of single people, the childless, researchers, historians, and of multi-ethnic communities.

Contributed by Keith Dyer

Illuminating Liturgy – The Passion according to St Luke – A Service Order

For a number of years the Congregation of Mark the Evangelist has heard the passion narrative of the gospel for that lectionary year on Passion (Palm) Sunday as a preparation for Holy Week. A version of that order — for Luke’s Gospel in Year C – is shared here in the hope that it might be useful to others .

The text of the passion narrative is punctuated with prayers, psalms and hymns, with a few suggestions for dramatic actions which might help to reduce the ‘wordiness’ of such a long reading in church. The order also includes the Eucharist. More explanation of the service and how to prepare it are given in the downloadable documents. Used ‘as is’ – including Holy Communion – the service would run for 70-75 minutes, depending on your music choices.

Please feel free to download these resources (in MS Word .docx format) and adapt them as appropriate to your local context. We’d love to hear whether they have been useful to you!

DOWNLOADS

25 September – Threads in a Tapestry of Faith

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Pentecost 16
25/9/2022

2 Timothy 1:1-14
Psalm 137
Luke 17:5-10

Sermon preached by Matt Julius


God, may my words be loving and true; and may those who listen discern what is not.
Amen
.

Sometimes the world shakes … our world shakes. It is, of course, different for each of us. Tragedy, loss, and disappointment always find new ways to manifest — in large and small ways.

On the 11th of March 2021 an email was sent to the pool of candidates for ordained ministry in our Synod informing them that I had resigned as one of those candidates. It was a decision I in no way regret, and yet it has led me to reconfigure my understanding of myself, and my faith, and my place in the Church. It was only in a recent conversation with a mentor that I realised how deep the work of reconfiguring my faith still has to go. With the discussion of faith and loss in our readings for today it is difficult for me to disentangle my own life and experience from these texts.

All encounters with texts, particularly those of scripture, draw us into the life of the text, and the text into our lives. Through the assumptions we bring to, our mood and state of mind, the ways the text makes us feel — or not feel — the new ideas they generate in us, the context in which they are read: we encounter ourselves in encountering the texts of scripture. And when we hear these words in a time of worship or prayer we hope, above all, that through this encounter we do not simply find ourselves, but find God.

The question posed by our Psalm is, in one sense, the perennial question posed by our encounters with scripture: how can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? Because we are always, in one sense, in a foreign land. We are never situated in the place where these texts were first heard.

Indeed, we scarcely know where these texts originally spoke from or to. Our Psalm speaks of the experience of the exile by Babylon — likely the clearest reference to exile in the Psalter. But the challenge of the Psalm is not to imagine ourselves among the artisans, landowners, and elites who were taken away into exile in the 6th century BCE. The challenge is to us today: how can we sing the Lord’s song in this new land?

Here, for those of us whose whakapapa — that is, heritage and history — is not rooted in this land what we hear in our Psalm is not a simple echo of ourselves, but a stark reminder of our distance from the Psalmist. We are not in exile. Indeed, we are the beneficiaries of a legacy of dispossession in this land. How then do we remain faithful to the question of the Psalmist: to sing the Lord’s song in this land?

The lesson here is what it means to remain faithful to the call of scripture. We remain faithful not by reconstructing the often-lost histories of ancient texts, as if our lives should be seen as a simple echo of lost days. Or as if the past could ever be a simple rubric applied directly to the present. Rather, we remain faithful by facing up to the kinds of questions, the kinds of challenges, that the writers of Scripture faced.

What we receive in these texts is that call: to open ourselves in honesty, naming the uncomfortable parts of our life with God, allowing ourselves to feel the frustration and disappointment that we do indeed feel. The call of scripture is, I want to suggest, to be honest before God; and not the imposition of a holy veneer, where everything is neatly filed away. The Psalmist — though not in the exact version we used today — even expresses the desire for violent vengeance against the children of their captors.

And so it is that through our honesty before God we remain faithful to God.

This is the word of grace we receive from Second Timothy. — a text we must read on face value, given the significant contest over where and from whom this text actually comes. Second Timothy reminds us that the faith and power of God is not something we must strive for, but something we receive. And we receive the gift of faith more fully when we are more fully open to receive it: more fully honest to receive it.

Faith is a gift, a spark, to be rekindled. A fire which we have received from those who love us. And, ultimately, from the one who loves us above and beyond all: God; in the fullness of life which pulsates through the world.

It is telling that Second Timothy does not settle with abstractions here. The text gets down into the dirt: naming the ones from whom faith has been received. This too is our task: honesty before God must mean giving an honest account of those from whom we have received our faith. Faith binds us together, it is something that lives in others, and then in us, like a subterranean root system feeding a network of new shoots. Like germinating life that falls from old growth and reseeds every generation.

I have to name the simple faith of my mother, the generous service of my father, my wife’s prophetic voice, my brother’s resilient heart, my many teachers — Craig not the least of them.

I confess in my current period of reconfiguration I have felt caught in these various shadows. Not quite clear how I can “make good” on what I have received from those who love me.

And yet, and yet … in traversing the distance and closeness of my relationship to scripture I am beginning to find again my closeness to God.

All of the past has conspired to gather us here. And yes we are each but a single thread in the tapestry of faith. Perhaps only able to conjure an honest word of anger, or disappointment, or loss. But there is love gathered at your back, pressing you onward. here are names of saints who have blessed you — and it is your task that their names not be lost.

Be honest before God, because God loves you. Be open to receive, because you will receive Sun and not shadow. Be patient in the sufferings of life, because the work of reconfiguration is hard and rewarding — I hope.

Hear then this good news:

Jesus has already invited you to a seat at the table. You are already included in the love that has rung throughout the world since before all ages. You are already part of the tapestry of faith which bears the burdens of others. You are already redeemed and restored. You are already the recipient of a gift: Jesus Christ who abolished death and brought life and light.

Be of good heart and do not despair. There are questions to be faced, challenges to undertake, and God to be found.

Truly.

Lectionary Commentary – Ordinary 26C/Proper 21C (Sunday between September 25 to October 1)


The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

Luke 16:19-31 see also By the Well podcast on this text

1 Timothy 6:6-19 see also By the Well podcast on this text

18 September – Tears without fear

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Pentecost 15
18/9/2022

Psalm 79
Luke 16:1-16


In a sentence:
Even death and deepest loss are not outside the reach of God

Last week a couple of Jesus’ parables led us to reflections on being lost and found. We’ll take this a little further today, and notice that in being lost, we are not simply lost; we lose something – our bearings, in particular. We suddenly realise that the landmarks which signalled where we were are now gone, and we no longer have the clues we need to get home. Our next steps now lack confidence because we have to guess which way to move, and that can just make things worse.

At the centre of today’s reading is the crushing grief Jeremiah feels at what is happening to his “poor people”: the cry of his poor people, the hurt of his poor people, the health of his poor people, the slain of his poor people. Whereas elsewhere we hear much accusation and threat from Jeremiah, now we hear his sadness, sickness and suffering over the realisation of his preaching: the fall of Jerusalem. There is no consolation here, no premature word of hope or comfort. Whatever hope or comfort might yet be heard, the present pain is pain. In place of the prayer he has been warned not to pray for this people (7.16; 11.14; 14.11) is his grief, for he cannot but weep. And even this grief is yet incomplete; the only prayer he does intimate is for more tears: “O that my head were a spring of water” that I might cry a fountain of tears.

Most of us don’t know grief like this. We might suspect that it is felt in cities across Ukraine and in 15,000(?) lounge rooms in Russia. We are learning how colonised, dispossessed and enslaved peoples have known something of such loss, and we know something of it when we lose one we’ve loved. Less dramatically but still painfully, the experience of the church in our society today has some relationship to what Jeremiah describes, and probably even more so here at MtE. Our departure from what has been so deeply valued in this place will hurt, and all the more so in the broader context of the church’s fortunes in societies like ours. In this experience of disorientation – of even being lost – we cast around to discover how it happened. We retrace our steps, hoping to pick up the track again at the point where we strayed. If we find a way back, we plan and regulate to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Surprisingly, this is not what Jeremiah does. He knows why the people have been lost: God has done this. With the other classical prophets, Jeremiah sees the disasters visited upon God’s people as God’s own judgement, exercised in the form of the marauding Assyrians and Babylonians. To our modern sensibilities in and out of the church, this a horrific assertion. It horrifies us partly because we are deeply impressed with the thought that God is love, which doesn’t look like love. And it horrifies us because it is dangerous to read history like this. We are tempted to imagine that what good happens to us is God’s blessing and what bad happens to others is God’s curse – that we and they “deserved” what we got. For this reason, the later apocalyptic prophets read the sufferings of history differently, now more in terms of an absence of God’s justice than its destructive presence.

But Jeremiah and the older prophets are not being primitive in their proclamation. Seeing God’s hand in the catastrophe allows that God is not dead or powerless – that the God of Israel is not subject to the god(s) of Assyria or Babylon. The God of Israel still oversees history, even as everything falls apart. It is with this careful bracketing – the thought that surely only God could stand so devastatingly against God’s people – that the prophets see God as the cause of Israel’s disaster.

Few prophets today – at least among us – dare to attribute the ongoing losses of the church in our society to God’s own action. We think this does God a favour. We take responsibility for the decline and get busy backtracking to see where we lost the way; we develop visions and strategies. Without the courage of the prophets, however, we unintentionally cut ourselves off from God. Now church decline is either all our fault – which is too hard to bear – or God is weak or dead, which becomes harder to deny. And so we have no sense of what might come next and whether it will be bearable, or whether God will even be there for us. Everything now becomes our responsibility – that we are lost, and how we might get un-lost again. Any thought of justification by grace – or being found by grace – goes out the window. The result is endless meetings to discuss what the church should be doing and, after all that, still the possibility of fear and loathing when finally we decide.

For Jeremiah, the God who destroys is the God who can rebuild. This doesn’t justify the loss or justify God. Justifying a loss involves invoking a calculus in which we must be deprived. This is the strange consolation we sometimes hear (or speak) in response to bereavement: that God “wanted” our loved ones to die, for our sake or theirs, as if death were a divine strategy. Rather, allowing what is lost to have been lost in and through God turns that loss into a call for response – a response in and to God, a response to the call to live. If Jeremiah is sure that God’s hand is at play in the disaster unfolding in Jerusalem, it is because he is confident that this is not the end; God will continue with the people even through the tragedy. There is nothing they can do for themselves but wait – wait on the God who will surely gather them back again.

Jeremiah’s flooding tears, then, are tears without fear. His is a “free” grief which feels the pain of loss but holds no fear for the future. If we fear for the future, grief can turn to anger, despair or nostalgia. Anger has its place, if it is without violence. Despair is a living death and scarcely an option for anyone who thinks anything has meaning, much less for those who utter the word “God” with any seriousness. The real temptation is nostalgia – the happy face of despair. Nostalgia imagines that it is enough for life to know where God once was. Once God loved us, but not now. Once we could point to the power of God in the masses of people, but not now. If we are believers, our nostalgia traps God in yesterday, before the tears came.

Against this, Christian discipleship is tears-without-fear. We look for not a little joy along the way, of course! But where there is sadness and loss – and there will surely be this – our tears are without fear. Even real and deep sadness need not be not despair. The Jewish-Christian vision is not tragic, and so our hopes far exceed nostalgia’s ghosts of Gods-past.

Jeremiah’s God gives, and takes away, and gives. We must live within this, for not to live here would be finally to despair in the face of death and loss. But there is the second giving – an intensifying of original gift – a forgiving which heals for life. And so we can live within sadness and loss – towards, through and out of it.

Blessed are the meek who learn this, Jesus says, though they have lost many things.

The Lord gives, and takes away, and gives again: blessed be the name of the Lord.

And blessed are those meek who find God’s life within this, for they shall inherit all things.

11 September – Lost and Found

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Pentecost 14
11/9/2022

1 Timothy 1:12-17
Psalm 51
Luke 15:1-10


In a sentence:
We are not defined by sin but by the love of the God who seeks us in all circumstances

One of the side-effects of the waning of God in the public imagination in these latter days is that we have seen a corresponding reduction in the number of sinners: less God, less sin!

Of course, there is still plenty of wrong-doing going on, including all the big-ticket items: disrespect, murder, adultery, theft, lying and coveting abound. Yet little of this is now commonly recognised as sin, except by the few who still know why those particular transgressions might be the “big-ticket items”. We still lament all of this, of course, except perhaps for the coveting, which is the engine of our modern economies. But, for the most part, these are all once-were-sins. Whatever the root problem in the world today is, it is not “sin”. This is because we have lost the idea of God around which the popular notion of sin was constructed. Because the God who commands and against whom we can sin is no longer a shared experience, neither can we have in common that we are sinners in any sensible way. The accusation “sinner” was once powerful. “He welcomes tax collectors and sinners”, declare Jesus’ accusers in today’s Gospel reading; that meant something to Jesus and his accusers. These days the notion of sin is thought to be at least unhelpful inside the churches and is ridiculed outside of them.

Yet, if we are not sinners, do we not still experience ourselves as “lost”? We are disoriented by a senseless war in Ukraine, sabre-rattling in the South China Sea, climate change threatening to roast most things, and the unreconciled claims for justice out of colonial history, to say nothing of those threats and problems which have been with us much longer. Besides what we can see, COVID-19 has further undermined our sense of security by revealing how vulnerable we are to things we don’t even imagine might be over the horizon. And there is a prevailing sense that “everyone is so angry about everything all of the time”.[1] As much as we might like church to be a place of escape from all this, that doesn’t much work either. If it were just a bad dream, we might expect to wake up at some stage, but we’ve no reason to imagine anything other than that this is as good as it is going to get. Where are we as a society, as a church, as individual hearts and souls?

What I’ve described is not the lostness we see in Jesus’ parables about the sheep and the coin. What is lost now is not one sheep or coin but the whole flock and purse. The parable implies a holy huddle – 99 sheep, nine coins – waiting safe while the lost one is finally restored. The 99 and the nine left to huddle are, in the story, the righteous who know where they are. Read this way, the parables are stories of the ins and the outs – a moralistic account of how we relate to God. Here, Jesus allows that “sinner” implies the possibility of un-sinners, the “un-lost”. But, whatever Jesus allows in the rhetorical moment, the text is not finally about a moral purity from which a few have strayed. Jesus seems to be defending his interest in the “tax collectors and sinners” but his accusers are themselves are also part of his interest. There is, then, an irony at play here, which is more obvious in the parable which follows today’s reading – the story of the unrighteous “prodigal son” whose self-righteous brother shows himself to be no less mistaken about the father’s love. Both these sons are lost, the one outside and the other inside, the clearly lost and the apparently un-lost.

This lostness in and out of the fold resonates with our experience today of a shared disorientation, and indicates that our attention should not be on the one lost sheep or coin but on the shepherd and the woman who seek the lost treasure. It is these who bind together the lost and those who think they are un-lost. To move from the parables to the broader gospel, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus are the key to interpreting our sense of being lost, or not. The cross captures those who are outcast – as the crucified Jesus is himself – and those who think they are “in-cast”, who think themselves among the safe 99. The cross is a leveller – capturing the ins and the outs, the pious and the impious, the religious and the secular. The cross becomes the one thing we have in common: that all are outside, whether we know it or not – that we are all lost. Faith in the cross is not merely faith that somehow God saves us in the death of Jesus if, by this, we mean God connects us back to the nine and the 99 who didn’t need saving. Faith in the cross sees the lost one and the unlost nine and 99 in a single vision.

There are, then, no 99 safe and the one lost – or, as it might seem in the churches today, one safe and 99 lost! “Sinner” doesn’t define us; it certainly doesn’t distinguish us from one another. The accusation “sinner” isn’t heard on Jesus’ lips but on the lips of those who accuse him and others. Jesus speaks instead of “hypocrites”, meaning those who refuse to see themselves as God sees them – as lost and found. Rather than accuse, Jesus stands for the one – the shepherd, the woman in her home – who sees and holds them all together.

And so there is no “safe”, un-lost community over against the lost, no sinners over against the righteous. We gather today, in this way, not as a holy huddle or a faithful remnant. We gather not to escape but to hear again that God finds us anywhere we might be, in or out.

If I ascend to heaven, you are there [writes the psalmist]; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139.8-12

A God such as this cannot know us as lost but only as found, cannot know us as sinners but as those destined for redemption.

We gather today as those lost in a lost world, to be reminded that we are sought, and to become seekers ourselves.

We gather as those dying, to be reminded of the promise of life, and to become signs of that promise.

We gather to keep hope alive – for our own sake, and so that we might become signs of hope for the world.

So, if God has found you, become yourself a seeker, a sign of promise, and a beacon of hope within a world which knows itself only as lost.

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-is-everyone-so-angry-about-everything-all-of-the-time-20220902-p5betf.html

Lectionary Commentary – Ordinary 25C/Proper 20C (Sunday between September 18 to September 24)


The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Psalm 79:1-9

Luke 16:1-13 see also By the Well podcast on this text

1 Timothy 2:1-7 see also By the Well podcast on this text

MtE Update – September 9 2022

  1. THIS SUNDAY Sept 11 there will be a workshop after morning tea for those leading the intercessions in worship
  2. The most recent Synod eNews (Septermber 8)
  3. The most recent news from the UCA Assembly (Sept 7)
  4. This Sunday September 9 we will be consider Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep and coin (Luke 15.1-10); for background on this and other texts for Sunday, see here.
  5. The MtE Events Calendar

Worship

  1. Our COVID policy for worship continues to be as follows, to be reviewed again by the church council in October:
  2. Mindful of the health-vulnerability of some members of our congregation and the uncertain state of play with respect to the pandemic, the church council has decided that we will continue to wear masks in worship throughout March, except for those who need to remove them when leading the worship, and for morning tea, or who have an exemption from wearing a mask. Holy Communion continues to be servied in both kinds, the wine via small communion glasses only.

Advance Notice

  1. October 20 — Next Quarterly Conversation on the Quarterly Essay

News

  1. Got time to volunteer for the Hotham Mission homework club?

Other things of interest

  1. Mental Health and Disabilities Conference
  2. From the local UCA CBD churches justice coaltion):

AUKUS

A number of peace, community, environment and faith organisations are planning to place an advertisement in a national newspaper calling on the Australian government not to involve Australia in a war with China over Taiwan; to sign the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons; and direct public spending away from AUKUS (Australia UK US) war preparations to urgent social and environmental needs. 

National Newspaper Advertisement

“We call on the Government of Australia in the interests of peace and security for the Australian people and the region:

  • To advise its AUKUS partners that Australia will not be involved in a war against China over Taiwan or disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea, or any other country, and will not allow use of Australian territory for that purpose
  • To sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
  • To cancel military spending for AUKUS war preparations, including cancellation of the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines, so that urgent domestic social needs (climate change mitigation, education, health including public hospitals and housing) can be better addressed.”

Over 1,000 signatures of organisations and individuals are being sought to back this statement for publication. The aim is to publish in one of the national newspapers on the anniversary of the announcement of the AUKUS military pact and nuclear submarines,16th September,2022.

To cover the cost of publishing the statement in one of the major national newspapers on 16 September we request individual donations of $20 (or what you can afford) and larger amounts from organisations. This statement can be signed and donations made on the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition website https://antiaukuscoalition.org/

This campaign is co-ordinated by the national Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition (AAAC) with the support of peace, community, faith organisations and unions.

Please donate towards covering the cost of placing this advertisement in a major national newspaper on 16 September.

Please circulate this public appeal for peace and no war with China over Taiwan.

To contact Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition: info@antiaukuscoalition.org

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