Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saint Luke: Physician, Apostle, and Evangelist

This morning at Morning Prayer and Holy Communion at Victoria House, the rectory for Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, Father Acker and I celebrated the Feast Day of Saint Luke which fell exactly on today, October 18. I love how the Anglican Church celebrates the feast days of the Biblical Saints--the Saints of the New Testament--while still seeing every follower of Christ as a saint as well.

Here is the Collect, the prayer prayed collectively by the Anglican Communion today (well, yesterday as I'm writing this at 1:00 AM):

ALMIGHTY God, you inspired your holy servant Luke the Physician to write an orderly accountof the Gospel and of the healing power of your Son; As he delivered your restoring words of wholeness, deliver us now from all sickness of body and soul; Through the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Scriptural references for this prayer: Luke 1.1-2; Colossians 4.14; Proverbs 22.1-2; 1Timothy 6.3-4)

As we do each Friday morning during Morning Prayer and Holy Communion, we prayed this portion of The Liturgy for Healing (Book of Common Prayer 2011 page 145):

Bless physicians, nurses, all all others who minister to the suffering; grant them wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience.

[Response:]Lord, have mercy upon us.

And as we also do each Friday, we prayed this portion of the Holy Communion service called The Prayer for the Church (Book of Common Prayer 2011 page 110):

And we humbly ask you in your goodness, O Lord, to comfort, visit, and relieve all those who [are in need of your healing touch, remembering especially (and we pray for God's healing to be upon those we mention by name and affliction) and] all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, danger, distress, or any other difficulty; Relieve and strengthen, help and deliver them by your mighty hand. Lord, in your mercy;

[Response:] Hear our prayer.

But today we also took time to thank God for doctors and nurses, many of which we prayed for by name, asking God's blessing upon them for strength and wisdom in their service to their patients. It was lovely to pray for my own doctors, both of whom are amazing men of God who invest prayer as well as research into their treatment of the whole person: body, mind, and soul.

I am so grateful for Dr. Adema, our family practictioner/osteopath and Dr. Burns, our chiropractor. Although the latter is retired, he has had the best insights into my autoimmune issues of any of the fourteen doctors I saw before finally getting a diagnosis for my chronic pain and fatigue. Dr. Adema continues to treat us, and with our daughter and son dealing with chronic fatigue and chronic pain issues as well, we've determined a genetic mutation that seems to be at the root of our issues. My daughter is using essential oils for herself and for me, and we're seeing some excellent results.

So as we thank God today for the example He gave us of a wonderful human physician, apostle, and evangelist in Saint Luke, we also thank Him for His healing His timing. Some Christians (and even some pastors and elders) have been suspicious of my twelve-year illness, claiming that either I didn't have enough faith for God to heal me or that I had such sin in my life that He was refusing to heal me--the usual evangelical arguments about illness.

It is in the stories of the Catholic Saints that I've found value in physical suffering--as well as in the Psalms which we read through each month in The Book of Common Prayer 2011. The Psalter breaks down the 150 Psalms into 60 readings, 30 for Morning Prayer and 30 for Evening Prayer. So the first few psalms are arranged under Day 1 Morning and Day 1 Evening, each numbered day corresponding to the day of the month. And it is in the saints such as Saint Teresa of Avila who endured illness for most of her life that I have found consolation and inspiration:

"Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough."
-- Saint Teresa of Avila

"God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”  
--Saint Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle

"One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer." --St. Teresa of Avila

And thus we return to Saint Luke the Physician who allowed The Great Physician to work through him in traveling with Saint Paul and in writing the Gospel According to Saint Luke and The Acts of the Apostles. The Saint of the Day e-mail from teaches us more about Saint Luke and leads us to pray for those who suffer through illness:

Friday, October 18, 2013
St. Luke

Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between A.D. 70 and 85.

Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Timothy 4:11).

Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. This Gospel reveals Luke's expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources.

The character of Luke may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles: (1) The Gospel of Mercy: Luke emphasizes Jesus' compassion and patience with the sinners and the suffering. He has a broadminded openness to all, showing concern for Samaritans, lepers, publicans, soldiers, public sinners, unlettered shepherds, the poor. Luke alone records the stories of the sinful woman, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son, the good thief. (2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation: Jesus died for all. He is the son of Adam, not just of David, and Gentiles are his friends too. (3) The Gospel of the Poor: "Little people" are prominent—Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, Simeon and the elderly widow, Anna. He is also concerned with what we now call "evangelical poverty." (4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation: He stresses the need for total dedication to Christ. (5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit: He shows Jesus at prayer before every important step of his ministry. The Spirit is bringing the Church to its final perfection. (6) The Gospel of Joy: Luke succeeds in portraying the joy of salvation that permeated the primitive Church.

"Then [Jesus] led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God" (Luke 24:50-53).
Today I took especial joy in praying for my family, my church families, and for friends who suffer physically. Whether it was rejoicing in a case of pre-eclampsia in a missionary friend which led to the slightly premature but healthy birth of a little girl, to praying for the wife of our former bishop who has Stage 4 lung cancer, to praying healing upon young girls I've met through writing web sites and struggle with brain tumors, with tumor-growing diseases, with blood platelet disorders, with leukemia, but who continue to write joyfully because writing is their calling--these are the ones we lifted up together as we asked for God's healing...and continue to do so each Friday morning in the rectory dining room.

Praying with you,

P.S. The Book of Common Prayer 2011 is going into its second printing!! This smaller order is being printed and should ship very soon. This edition will be in red leather with slightly larger print and will have a few corrections from the first printing. I amso thrilled to have been one of the editors for this project; it truly was a labor of love to use a modern Bible translation such as the English Standard Version (ESV) to bring the beauty and depth of ancient worship into the 21st century. We'll be taking pre-orders soon, so watch our website and Facebook page. :)

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