St Luke the Journalist

By | 30th October 2017

This year Reverend Steve Gendall, Senior Chaplain at Crowhurst Christian Healing Centre was invited to be the speaker at our annual St Lukestide Service of Healing and Blessing at Canterbury Cathedral.  Steve has kindly agree to share his notes with us as a reminder of his words…

St Lukestide – Canterbury Cathedral
15th Oct 2017

Father, may my spoken word be faithful to the written word, and lead us to the living word, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.  God loves you.

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe as was Veronica, my wife.

3 turning points on my Christian journey

1. Discovering as a late teenager how much God loved me and experiencing that love for myself – I asked Jesus to be my Saviour Lord.
2. Couple of years later in a Church called St Luke in the middle of Zimbabwe I heard God’s call to the priesthood.
3. Seven years later at St Lukestide I was ordained Priest.

Therefore St Lukestide is a special festival for me.  Thank you to Reverend Canon Sarah Chapman and The Living Well for the invite.

During these years Zimbabwe was run by a dictator who ran a one party state and not surprisingly the media was state owned and controlled – the 2 newspapers and the radio and TV were showered with articles about our leader – a saviour.

In 2002 we believe the Lord told us to move to this country.  Suddenly we found ourselves living in a democracy where the plethora of newspapers and news outlets was mindboggling and you may be labelled according to what you read.

The last few years with Post-Truth, fake news, various scandals about hacking and the explosion of communication through the internet, have given us all the opportunity to ask a couple of questions:

Do I want to fill my mind with all this garbage, this poison? The choice is ours.
Where can I find truth that will guide me through this world of noise?

It’s such a simple connection that we can overlook it but wouldn’t we like to be able to read a journalist that put good journalistic principles into practise?  Let me help you think about Luke the Physician in a slightly different way; Luke was a very good journalist. (With thanks to the Journalism Department of Harlow College where I was first introduced to St Luke, ‘the journalist’.)

A good journalist will aim for:

accuracy; they will verify their material; it will be relevant, balanced and impartial.

Just look at Luke’s attention to be sure, to be accurate and verify his material as he describes it in Luke 1.  He describes various written manuscripts – we can imagine Luke has seen and read them all.  He writes of eyewitnesses and servants of the word – many sources he has interviewed before he goes to print.

So a question – is Luke’s, the journalist, message still relevant today?  Jesus called people to follow him and they did.  Not just a few people but large crowds.  Not just the poor but the rich; not just the sick but those who thought they were healthy; not just the Jew but the Gentile too.  Everyone was amazed by Jesus according to Luke:

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him 2.33
Everyone was amazed at all the things he was doing. 9.43
Peter went home, amazed at what had happened. 24.12

Let us look at some of his material and see if it still applies for today.

Inspires faith – Faith is divine persuasion in action – its what faith means.  Luke teaches us in Acts 3.16 that faith is a gift from God himself and it can be increased.

Luke records Jesus’ invitation to Simon-Peter with faith-inspiring detail –Matthew and Mark just record Jesus out on a beach walk passing these fisherman and he says come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men and they follow.

In Luke 5 we see his detail draws Simon-Peter in; Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and Jesus tells Simon to push it out – in other words, Simon, you are going to hear this; then he tells Simon to get into the boat and go fishing – Simon gasps, no we failed last night, but if you say so – the result was the boats were filled with fish; Simon’s partners James and John and all were also amazed; as soon as they landed they left everything and followed him.

I wonder what your story is? – How the Lord drew you in?  We don’t all have a Paul-like Damascus Road experience but most, gradually, step-by-step until we see and believe … . The invitation is still applicable today – come and follow me.

Encourages hope – The birth narrative; a barren woman has a child – Elizabeth – this is hope for those looking for a miracle; a young innocent girl is asked to carry God and sings the Magnificat which has inspired hope across the centuries – hope for a nation; the hand of God on Zechariah and Elizabeth with the birth of John  – Zechariah’s song; shepherds – the unnoticed people, the labourers, have a visitation from angels about good news;  so to the respected, the disrespected, the obvious and unexpected – he offers hope to all.

What good journalistic practise he uses throughout these chapters; enough detail to give the reader the opportunity to choose – is there hope in here for me?

Shows love – You won’t be surprised to know that I turn to one of Luke’s famous stories – the Prodigal Son – the old fool; as most of his readers would probably have read it then, a fool to divide his fortune and give half away before he died; a fool to linger in the road – waiting and looking for his son; a fool to go running when he sees him; a fool to believe the sons lame apology, a fool to waste more money on this son; and this fool in Luke’s story is God.  This is hesed – when the one from whom I have the right to expect nothing gives me everything. (Hesed – Hebrew for loving-kindness.)  That hesed is what Luke the journalist wants his readers to hear and see and how brilliantly he records this story told by Jesus.

Conclude – Luke, the journalist, gives his readers, gives you and me the opportunity to ask questions about the relevance of Jesus and faith and hope and love for today.  He invites his readers to respond to the invitation of Jesus to follow him and to continue this work of good news that the Kingdom of God is among us.