theunfamiliarname

Homily for St Luke’s 2010

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm

A hybrid of the children’s and adult’s talks…

We have a rather special connection with St Luke.

There is a direct link between us
and Luke’s writing down of the teaching he received
concerning Christ and the early Church.

You will be aware that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles
are parts 1 & 2 of Luke’s writings to Theophilus,
a socially significant potential or recent convert to Christianity.

Luke was gentile, a physician, a companion of Paul,
a writer who draws his readers’ attention to the kingdom of God come near,
and to this good news
and its special attention to the poor, to the excluded,
to women, to the disadvantaged.
All of which is an interesting way to be addressing Theophilus,
embodying the very opposite.
Yet, be aware that “Theophilus” translates as “Lover of God”,
so while he was most likely a real figure,
perhaps Luke always had us in mind.

Luke’s Gospel could be usefully compared, believe it or not,
to a game of ‘pass the parcel’ or celestial ‘chinese whispers’.

Think of Luke’s story.

He begins with an angel speaking to Zechariah,
and later an amazing response – the Benedictus –
an angel speaking to Mary,
and an amazing response – the Magnificat.

We have more angels speaking to shepherds,
not the travelling kings of Matthew’s story,
but a few very ordinary people witnessing the birth.

An old man, Simeon, sees the child and we hear the Nunc Dimittis,
Anna the prophet understands the child’s identity.

The child is lost, sitting in the Temple with the teachers,
while his parents search.

These are all Luke’s stories.

John the Baptist, son of Zechariah,
prepared before birth in Luke’s gospel to be the forerunner
passes the mantle of ministry and identity to Jesus.

Jesus himself claims an older identity – Isaiah’s words:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

That is passed to the disciples at the end of Luke’s gospel
when Jesus says “you are witnesses to these things”.

The good news that we are witnesses to
is itself passed to Paul and his companion Luke.

That missionary impetus that sent Luke and Paul on their epic journeys
ultimately sends faithful embodiers of the Word to Aotearoa.

A.N. Brown and Charlotte his wife
settled ultimately at Tauranga in 1836.

A group of children were being evacuated after trouble nearby
and were attacked.

Tarore, daughter of the Ngakuku, aged twelve was killed,
as the gospel of Luke that lay as a pillow beneath her head
stolen.

The gospel urged her family to pledge themselves to  forgiveness.

And the gospel of Luke, Tarore’s Gospel of Luke,
lived on.

Uita who led the party that killed Tarore, took it.
But Uita couldn’t read.
Ripahau his slave could, and read from the gospel.
Ultimately this led to the reconciliation of Uita and Tarore’s father.

Ripahau was freed and returned to Otaki
coming in contact with Te Rauparaha’s son, Tamihana.
Reading from the Scriptures, Ripahau taught Tamihana to read.
But this was piecemeal, and they needed a complete text.
Ripahau sent a messenger for more books,
and brought back Tarore’s Gospel of Luke.

Tamihana took this same copy of the Gospel
when he came to preach peace to his father’s enemies in Southland..
This is our story – Luke’s story is one that does not stay still.

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