The Feast of St. Luke 2021
17 October 2021
Today’s Readings: Timothy 4:10-17; Luke 10:1-9.

Let us pray.

Almighty God,
you called Luke the physician,
whose praise is in the Gospel,
to be an evangelist and physician of the soul;
by the grace of the Spirit and through the wholesome medicine of the Gospel,
give your Church the same power to love and to heal:
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.


A Reflection from Carola Darwin

The Gospel of Luke is unusual among the books of the New Testament in that it seems to have been written for a specific person. The opening of the Gospel is a dedication: ‘Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus’. The name Theophilus means lover of God and it’s possible that he was a high Roman official, whom Luke hoped to provide with real information about Jesus’s message and the beliefs of his followers. Though the dedication may also mean that the gospel is intended for anyone who loves God and wants to know more about Jesus.

The story of the 72 (or, in some versions, 70) disciples is a story about mission – the 72 are sent out to prepare the people of each town to hear Jesus’s message. But it’s also about vocation – Jesus calls them to do a particular job, and then tells them how to do it. At the same time, the opening dedication gives a sense that the whole of Luke’s gospel is an expression of Luke’s mission: to spread God’s word and the good news about Jesus, and that his vocation is to do it by writing a careful account for Theophilus.

We use the phrase ‘vocational training’ to mean simply learning the skills for a particular job, but the original meaning of ‘vocation’ is means something that God calls you to do.  Jesus offers the disciples vocational training of a particularly urgent and imperative kind. One of the most striking things about the instructions is the sense of haste – don’t waste time packing, Jesus says, don’t load yourself down with possessions, just go. And when you go, be open to all possibilities – you may be accepted or rejected, you may have to eat things you don’t like, or even break the dietary laws that you grew up with, you may feel like a lamb among wolves. The harvest is ripe and needs to be gathered right now, before it’s too late. In our modern, urban world it’s not easy to get this sense of urgency. This isn’t just a deadline: ‘the boss needs this by 5 o’clock’. It’s absolutely about survival: if you don’t get to the harvest on time, the insects and the birds and the weather will get it instead. And when winter comes, you and your family will starve.

Some people have a vocation as clear and urgent as the 72 disciples. They know what God has called them to do, and they know they have to do it now. The disciples also found that their healing and casting out of demons was extremely successful: ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name,’ they said. In the same way, there are people whose calling leads to them to clear achievements and worldly success, whether as a church leader or a world-famous violinist. But for many of us, it’s not as clear and simple as that. We struggle to understand what God wants us to do, and when we do it, we aren’t necessarily strikingly successful. It’s easy to wonder, as you struggle along, whether God has really called you to try and keep open a failing church, or to squeeze into the back of a second-rate orchestra.

So how can you tell if a calling is really from God? In Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the miserly and misanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, Marley, who tells him that he needs urgently to change his way of life. Scrooge is terrified, but tries to persuade himself that the vision needn’t be taken seriously:

"You don't believe in me," observed the Ghost.
"I don't," said Scrooge.
"Why do you doubt your senses?"
"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel in his heart by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.”

Most people aren’t sent a ghost to tell them what to do, however – it’s more likely to be a feeling or an idea that won’t go away. And it doesn’t have to be a grand, extraordinary thing that you feel called to do – it might be a simple piece of kindness or a small change in your way of life. The challenge is to recognise – to discern – whether the calling comes from God.

In his book ‘God at work’ Ken Costa suggests that there are 5 things that you should look for in a Christian calling. First and second, it should be both passionate and challenging – you might feel the calling very strongly and suddenly, or it may just be something that you keep coming back to, that you can’t get out of your head. But it should also call you out of your comfort zone, and stop you accepting the status quo. Meanwhile (third and fourth) it should also be both attainable and contented. Your calling won’t include something implausibly difficult like making a billion pounds in a year or running round the world backwards. Your calling needs to feel like you, to be something that fits in with your skills and your experience and with the things and people that you love. And finally, somehow, you’ll have the sense that it’s what God wants you to do. This fifth and last requirement may be the hardest to discern. As Fr Andrew once said to me ‘not all good ideas are God’s ideas’. It may take time to hear what God is calling you to do. You’ll probably need to pray and think and maybe discuss it with a trusted friend. You may need to ‘suck it and see’ – trying out a small step towards your ambition and seeing what happens. Because a calling should yield the fruits of the Spirit – which Paul describes in the Letter to the Galatians – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Maybe not all of those all the time – we are all sinners! – but there should be a sense that the fruits of the Spirit are present and increasing.

After a roller-coaster ride through Christmases Past, Present and Future, Scrooge understands that he needs to live differently, and he is called to give his clerk Bob Crachit a splendid Christmas, and even to join in with Bob’s family’s happiness. And he loves every minute of it:

"I am as light as a feather, [he says] I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"

I wonder if the 72 disciples said something similar.

Organ Voluntary

Those of you who regularly listen to the Organ Voluntary will have seen this organ before, in the beautiful St. Martin’s Church in Zaltbommel, but played by Gert van Hoef.

In this piece, Reitz Smits plays his own arrangement.  It might seem a little long, but it is a continually engaging set of variations.

Variation Serieuses – Felix Mendelssohn:
Watch here

Today’s hymn

Light’s abode, celestial Salem (words attributed to St. Thomas a Kempis)
Watch here

Music from Matthew

Celebrating St Luke we recognise his ministry as a physician and so the music today reflects the themes of light and the healing power of the Holy Spirit. At the offertory, Ruthy will sing the aria ‘Eternal source of light divine’ from Handel’s Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, composed in 1713. Although a secular cantata, the libretto by Ambrose Philips here describes the attributes of the Queen, it works equally well as a meditation on light divine.
‘Eternal source of light divine’ from Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne
music by G.F. Handel (1685-1759)

Eternal source of light divine
With double warmth thy beams display
And with distinguish’d glory shine
To add a lustre to this day.
Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Crispian Steele-Perkins (natural trumpet)
The King’s Consort, Robert King (conductor)
During communion, a setting of words from a hymn originating from Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, interpolated with the Latin refrain Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit). Intended as a responsory to be sung during anointing or laying on of hands, this setting provides a contemplative accompaniment to the administration of the Sacrament.
Responsory of the Holy Spirit
music by Matthew Power (b.1970)
Words: Stanbrook Abbey, Wass (1974)
Spirit of the Lord, come down
Spreading your protective wing,
Over all that you have made,
Over every living thing.
Come in storm-wind, cleansing fire,
Sweeping through a world unclean;
Come in every gentle breeze:
Breath of God, unheard, unseen.
Holy Spirit, blessèd Light,
Guide and strengthen mind and will;
Comfort every grieving heart,
And our inmost being fill.
Through the Father and the Son,
By whose blood our life was bought,
Fill our empty hands with gifts:
Come with grace unearned, unsought.

Welcome to the Well

The next meeting of our monthly spirituality group will be on Friday 22nd October.
10.30am for coffee; meeting begins at 11am and finishes with lunch.

Last weekend’s Etheridge/Rowe concert

Thank you to everyone who helped make this such as success, and in particular Paul & Teresa, Fiona, Barbara, Gus, Nick, and James. In total we raised £2,300 for parish funds which is excellent.

Eddie Salloway RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Eddie Salloway who died peacefully in his 90th year on 24 September at the North Middlesex Hospital. With his late wife, Rose, Eddie was a stalwart member of St Anne’s running stalls, catering, befriending and showing great generosity. The funeral will be 1pm on Monday 25 October at Finchley Cemetery, followed by a wake at the West Lodge Hotel, Cockfosters Road, EN4 0PY. Please let the clergy know if you plan to attend.

General Synod Elections 2021

Congratulations to all those elected to the General Synod this week. Results for the Diocese of London can be found here.

Daily Readings

Monday: Acts 16:6-12a; Psalm 147:1-7; Luke 10:1-9.

Tuesday: Romans 5:12-end; Psalm 40:7-12; Luke 12:35-38.

Wednesday: Romans 6:12-18; Psalm 124; Luke 12:39-48.

Thursday: Romans 6:19-end; Psalm 1; Luke 12:49-53.

Friday: Romans 7:18-end; Psalm 119:33-40; Luke 12:54-end.

Saturday: Romans 8:1-11; Psalm 24:1-6; Luke 13:1-9.
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