by The Rev. Dr. Helen Svoboda-Barber
Happy St. Luke’s Day! 2020 is an interesting year to be celebrating St. Luke the Physician. In other years we gather in person, wear red, often with a bishop in our midst as we celebrate confirmations and receive new members into our church. This year, this year is like no other. We remember and pray together in different ways this year.
Often on St. Luke’s day, we reflect on the birth of our congregation (that by design we were planted in the middle of Durham’s three hospitals), or we remember those who came before us with the vision and the will and the means to create the St. Luke’s we have today.
But this year, this year when we are spending the vast majority of time at home alone, this year, I’d like us to think about St. Luke’s Day not just as to how it relates to those who are a part of St. Luke’s, but also how St. Luke’s Day might matter to those outside our congregation. Our collect for today asks God to “graciously continue in your Church [Christ’s] love and power to heal.” We, each one of us, has a part in sharing Christ’s love and Christ’s gift of healing.
This year, I’ve been thinking about healing a lot. I’m mindful that healing is not just something our bodies sometimes need. Healing is also something that we sometimes need for our minds and our souls, too.
Healing of body, mind and soul. Healing of place and past. Today we celebrate St. Luke the physician and gospel author. Today is a good and right time for us to name the healing we need, and to offer the healing we can.
This year I have been struck by how many important recognitions happen in October that have to do with healing. Just in the last week, I have noticed:
October 10 was World Mental Health Day
October 11 was Coming Out Day
October 12 was Indigenous Peoples Day
October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day
On each of these days, I thought about people I have known and loved, both inside the church and outside the church, for whom these days deeply matter:
I bring to my mind those I know who have lived with Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD and those who have survived and those who have died by suicide.
I bring to my mind those I know who have been rejected and wounded when they shared their true gender or revealed the person they loved.
I bring to mind those who are descendants of the people who tended this land for centuries before Euopeans arrived.
I bring to mind those babies who were lost near birth, those who died in the womb, those who were desperately wanted but never arrived.
In just one week of remembrances, I hold so many in my heart. So many who need some Good News in their life, so many who still need healing of body, mind or spirit. So many who have old wounds that can be ignored most of the time, but occasionally flair up and are reminders of old pain.
There is so much brokenness in this world, both within the church and without. And Saint Luke offers us a two-prong approach to this brokenness. Luke was someone who both offered a means of physical healing and also offered the Gospel, the Good News, for emotional and soul healing.
Our congregation,St. Luke’s, was specifically built to support health care workers and the patients and families who accessed the hospitals near us. We were built to offer emotional and soul healing for those providing physical healing, and for those in need of healing.
And WE are the church. So I invite you to claim your place in the church today by engaging healing right now, wherever you are.
I invite you to take a moment right now to think about the people you know in your life that need healing. Those who are sick or injured. Those who are anxious or depressed. Those who have lost work or stability of any sort. Hold these people in the healing light of Jesus.
I invite you to take a moment to think about the people you know who are healers. Doctors and nurses and support staff. Therapists and pharmacists. People who give really good hugs, and people who write lovely notes and who show up with comforting meals. People who pray. Hold these people in the nurturing light of Jesus.
I invite you to take a moment to think about yourself…How are you a healer in the lives of your family and friends? In what ways might you reach out with a moment of healing to someone you know who is hurting in body, mind, or spirit? How can you bear the healing light of Jesus?
And now I invite you to take a moment to name and claim the ways you need healing. Where in your body, mind and spirit could you use some healing, some nurturing, some light? Name this. Claim this. And offer it to Jesus for healing and tender care.
In this strangest year, we each are celebrating St. Luke’s day alone. And yet, we are never alone. We hold within us a great cloud of witnesses of healers and of those who need healing. We honor those parts of ourselves that can heal and those parts of ourselves that need healing.
Offer yourself for this blessing For Health of Body and Soul from page 460 of our Book of Common Prayer:
May God the Father Bless you,
God the Son heal you,
God the Holy Spirit give you strength.
May God the holy and undivided Trinity
guard your body,
save your soul,
and bring you safely to the heavenly country;
where God lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.