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Welcome to

ST MICHAEL & All ANGELS CHURCH

(Church of England)

St Michael's Green, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield, Bucks HP9 2BN

 

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Sunday 18th October 2015 – sermon given by Rev’d Kevin Beer

St Luke (with healing & anointing)   

Old Testament:   Isaiah Chapter 35 verses 3-6    

New Testament:     Luke Chapter 10 verses:1-9        2 Timothy chapter 4 verses 5-17

 

Healing and Salvation

 

Today, 18th October, is the feast day of St Luke, the writer of the gospel that bears his name and also the Acts of the Apostles.  This makes him the most prolific writer of the New Testament - we know more about Jesus and the early church through his writings than through anyone else.  If it wasn’t for Luke, we would not know the parables of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the rich man and Lazarus; or the ministry of Jesus to the widow’s son at Nain, Martha and Mary, the Samaritan leper, Zachaeus or his conversations when he appeared before Herod or on the road to Emmaus, as well as many others, most notably among the poor and to women.  He is regarded as the foremost historian of this time.  Luke’s narrative of the life of Christ has a pictorial quality and shows the sequential pattern from the nativity through to his death and resurrection.

 

He was a dear friend of the apostle Paul, and is mentioned three times in his New Testament letters.  Paul describes him as ‘the beloved physician’ and, in the 2nd letter to Timothy which we heard today, he is referred to as Paul’s only remaining companion in prison.  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.

 

Luke the physician learned from Jesus that healing is not a matter of fixing the body but fixing the person for eternal life.  This physician became the evangelist teaches us where the Kingdom of God comes near, there is the healing word that welcomes sinners, restores the broken, gives life to the dying and saves us.

 

Now, when we pray for healing, so often we are conditioned to think only in medical terms, to frame healing in the context of that which repairs this body and lengthens this life.  When we go to the doctor we expect a prescription or procedure that will make us feel better – that is the only healing we care about.  But, in case you didn’t know, whatever the government chooses to spend on it, the NHS will always have a 100% failure rate, it cannot keep us alive indefinitely.  But to Luke the physician, a salve was so much more than just an ointment or a prescription of pills.  The salvation that he offered was holistic, of the body, mind, soul and spirit.

 

So, today perhaps we need to let God enlarge our understanding of healing and connect it to His Kingdom in Jesus Christ.  What if we were to see healing in the context of salvation.  Where God’s Kingdom is, there is healing for all our ills, for sin, and even for death.  Where His kingdom is proclaimed, forgiveness takes place, life stronger than death is bestowed, and we are made whole through the grace revealed in Jesus Christ.  God gives us more than a band-aid to bind us through, but rather the life that steals away our death so that we might live forevermore.

 

Jesus sent out his disciples with this mandate: “Heal the sick … and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”  Healing comes to us through the Kingdom of God which has come near to us in Jesus Christ, to repair us for life now and to prepare us for life to come.  And the great thing about it is that you and I not only hear this word of hope and promise, we are called to be the speakers whose voices proclaim this hope and healing, forgiveness and redemption, life and life everlasting.  We do this in word and action - as Jesus did when He brought this grace to us.

 

The good news we need to hear is that: “The Kingdom of God is come near you.”  The Word that brings the Kingdom is the word that speaks of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  The Gospel Word is not some vague sentiment but the fact of Jesus suffering and death to bring us life and salvation.  This Word accomplishes what it says.  It is effective, or to use the medical term “efficacious”.  Medicine that relieves pain as it promises is efficacious.  Well God’s Word is efficacious – it delivers what it promise and does what it says.  So when we proclaim this Word, healing takes place, sins are forgiven, lives are reborn, and death is overcome.

 

When God brings His Kingdom near to us, He brings to us this healing Word of the cross that keeps its promises and does what it says to heal us from sin’s wounds and death and to impart to us His forgiveness and life.  But the Word can also speak through actions.  Just as Jesus formed some clay to open the ears of the deaf and touched the sick to heal them and even called the dead to life through his grace, so does God speaks to us through actions.  We call these means of grace, where His Word is attached to the element – water in baptism and bread and wine in Holy Communion.  In the waters of baptism He says “The Kingdom of God is come near you.”  At this rail where we receive the body and blood of Christ, God says to us: “The Kingdom of God is near you...”

 

St. Luke the Physician became St. Luke the Evangelist but his purpose remained the same.  He exchanged one limited understanding of healing with the expansive understanding of Jesus, whose Word brings healing for the body, healing for sin, healing for life, and healing for death…  Yesterday, I was called to pray with a lady who is in the final days of a long fight against cancer.  Before leaving, I noticed a jar of Vaseline by her bedside, and used it to sign her with the sign of the cross.  In so doing, I reminded her of her baptism in Christ – signed, sealed and delivered into his Kingdom through the cross.  At that point, she responded for the first time, fixed her eyes on me and smiled. That was powerful and efficacious healing for both of us.

 

St. Luke’s Day is a traditional day to focus upon God’s healing acts in all their forms – those that take away our physical burdens, those that bring healing to our wounded spirits, those that heal our souls through forgiveness, and those that heal our death marked bodies for eternal life.  They are not different graces but the one healing grace that flows from Christ and the power of His cross.  In many and various ways God speaks healing to us - today we learn that where His Word and Sacraments are, there is His Kingdom come near to us, and there is our healing Lord at work in us and through us.  Amen.

 

 

 


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