The Order of St John

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2014 at 7:40 pm

It’s my privilege to speak, and briefly,

this morning, as the different parts of St John

get together in a way we often don’t,

and at St Luke’s we’re honoured

to share in your company.


There are of course,

some who can’t be with us this morning,

because they’re on call, on duty.


Operational staff have in my experience,

a good sense of humour.

At times, it can be fairly dark, so I thought I’d begin

with a treatment related joke, but a safe one.

Unless you’ve got a pet duck,

in which case, it may be in poor taste.


In the middle of the duck-hunting season,

a bird was shot and brought home.

And this is actually a true story. 2007.

It spent two days in the fridge,

and when it came to cooking it,

the lady of the household found the duck was still alive.

While the duck concerned actually survived,

for the purposes of the joke let’s continue.

Rushed to the vet’s surgery, on arrival,

the duck’s condition was said to be “delicious”.


No. On arrival it was found to be dead.


The vet passed the sad news on to the woman

who had brought it in, she was adamant: save it at all costs.

The Vet says, “it’s dead. It’s a dead duck.”

“I want a second opinion”

The vet says “It is no more? It’s ceased to be?

It’s expired and gone to meet its Maker!”

“Tests” she says, “I want tests done”.

“OK” says the vet, ‘bring in the dog’.

A black Labrador Retriever is brought in

who looks around and barks loudly…

A cat is invited into the room,

gives a collegial nod to the dog

and looks around intently.

Suddenly there’s a sign of life with the duck.

An old-fashioned photographer rushes in.

“Cheese!” They pose for ages

while black and white photos are prepared.

“My duck?” says the woman.

“What are you doing about my duck?”

The vet says, “Well,

we’ve done the Lab report, we had a cat scan,

and there was a moment of hope

where we tried sepia. AHEM.

There’s no more we could have done.

That’s one dead duck.”


Can I remind you of St John’s beginnings?

A thousand years ago

Christian Brothers understood the essence of their call to be:

to care for the stranger and the pilgrim and the sick.

In the Holy City of Jerusalem

they formed a community of care.

We claim that idea in the by-line “first to care”.


We claim those words more fully

in this country when our front-line folk

rush to the emergency room

because what was offered by those first brothers

gave us the word “hospital”.

They took the name of St John the Baptist,

and offered “hospitality”.

A bed for the night for the pilgrim.

Care for the sick and infirm.

As followers of Jesus, they had this challenging phrase

“our Lords, the poor and the sick”.

A reminder to us all

of what service in Christ’s name looks like.

Of what service in St John looks like.


This is a Christian Order.

St John’s has at its beginning the Gospel.

Good News in Christ Jesus.

Healing and redemption

with the sense that God has come to us,

stood with us, and offered wholeness

in our weakness and our need.


That’s been 1000 years in the blood of St John.

St John’s has at its beginning the Gospel.

Its symbol is a cross. It is full of sacrifice and service.


And in a very tangible way

it works that Good News out.


In loving service. In self-giving.

In community-building. In mindfulness of others.

In giving a damn.

In what we could call in our inexpressive culture, “love”.




“Hospitality” leads from a bed for the night

to “Hospital”, “Hospice”, “Hospitaliers”.


And to those who give of themselves every day

in service to us through their willingness

to serve and stand in places most of us would struggle to.


And the place of most struggle is probably

back where it all starts for the Order of St John.


The place where “hospitality” began.

The place where the Order of St John

still offers welcome and care.

Offers in The St John Eye Hospital

care to Arab and Israeli,

Christian and Muslim,

to Palestinians cut off by Israel’s occupation and Wall

a care that reaches out and that transforms lives.

Offers sight, where darkness and sightlessness reigned.

Profoundly biblical and Christian language,

and signs of the coming of God’s Kingdom.



We are invited

to pray for and support the Jerusalem Eye Hospital

as a symbol of our common claim of this outreach,

but also as a direct connection.


One Nurse at the Hospital, Samia,

has been “adopted” by St John NZ.

Samia wears a St John New Zealand nametag

to link her with us in a unique way.

She lives in Beir Zeit, a village near Ramallah.

She rises at 5am daily

to make her long daily trip to Jerusalem.

This trip is often delayed at checkpoints

or by road closures and rerouting.

You’ll see something of her story at the door,

where you’re invited to make a donation

towards the Hospital.


A picture allegedly tells a thousand words.


The St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem:…


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