Wednesday was the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Where would we be without St. Luke? No Magnificat, no story of the Nativity, no record of the Acts of the Apostles, and no Passion story. Luke gives our Gospel story its heart.
Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels are both thought to have been independently derived from Mark’s gospel, and Luke’s gospel contains, like many of our recent readings from Matthew, an accusation of Israel’s religious and political leadership, and a foretelling of apocalyptic destruction. Like Mattthew’s gospel, Luke’s was written after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. For example, the reading for Thursday says:
Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Luke 11:47-51
This week we hear words like this from Matthew's and Luke's gospels after the vicious attack on the state of Israel, and the attendant slaughter of many innocents. We must always be careful not to see these gospels as foretelling this tragic moment in history.
In many ways, the Middle East has been victimized in the last hundred years, by European colonization and partitioning of the Arab Middle East before and after WWI, and by the slaughter of, and exploitation of, many Jews from Europe after World War II, and in subsequent years the region has been inflamed by the world’s quest after oil. Resulting religious conflicts seem to create these recent histories, but I would look to the outcomes of two world wars more than to the prophecies of these two gospels for historical cause.
We are in a time when, as Reverend Nancy’s recent reflection tells us, when prayerfully listening to this shared hurt, more than conquest, can bring stability and care to our future. Early in Luke’s gospel we hear angels that proclaim “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Humanity”. These are needed words when we see many of the behaviors that have led to major wars in the past present in our world today. It is frightening for all of us to see this in the world, it recalls wars past, inexplicable atrocities shock and sadden us. I think that Luke gives us hope, that in the midst of oppression an infancy of hope can be born, that goodness, and the goodness of God, finds a way to persist and to console, and that the world can transform from the darkness of evil to the dawning of resurrection.
Our service this Sunday will include a Healing Prayer service as part of the Eucharist. The essence of Healing Prayer is to hear the other person’s concern, to acknowledge what was said and what was heard, to pray into the other person’s concern, and to offer this concern to God, and then, finally to invoke God’s care through the laying on of hands. At this point is said, “I lay my hands upon you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, beseeching Him to so uphold you and fill you with His grace, that you may know the healing power of His love.”
These words of healing are so needed by our world today. Let us so pray into the pain of the world, place this pain and suffering before God, and pray that the healing power of God’s love will be upon us all.
Chapel Chats: Chapel Chats are back! Your clergy love to hear from you and welcome the opportunity to talk on the Chapel Porch, inside, or come to you for a visit. Please reach out to Rev. Nancy or Fr. CJ to set up a conversation.