sermon on st luke's day
November 13th, 2020

Social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and all the others that are out there—social media have only amplified and magnified our connectedness with other people. They have needed to be set free from another question that continues to haunt them: what did we do to make God angry that we should deserve this? All the while, in the background, looms Lifton’s psychic numbing: we are so small, what can we do? The book of Job proclaims their innocence ….. and after a while their speakers, their leaders, their representatives  will look up and turn their eyes towards us in Australia, in New Zealand, in the United States and the United Nations and ask one simple question which they have every right to ask: “are we not your neighbours?” “Are we not your neighbours?”. It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. The story of Job has an advantage: it does not gloss over the threats and the prospects of life overwhelmed. This past week we received a dire warning. In terms of our reading this morning Eliphaz the Temanite has just laboured the pointed: of what possible benefit is Job’s faithfulness to God. And yet one of the leaders on Tuvalu has likened the plight of his people to the story of Job. It is central to the way we think and speak about the gospel. In Mark the story takes a rather different line: the lawyer is now a rich young man who calls Jesus good and then wonders what he must do to inherit eternal life. It almost feels like the time is right for the prophet Jeremiah to come in on cue and deliver one of his stinging series of woes. Luke alone is with me. The promise is that never again will the waters cover the earth: that has been a comforting text. We have become so used to extreme rhetoric of late where fake news and alternative facts trump common sense and diplomatic reserve. Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today! This litany almost feels apocalyptic. St. Luke is quite special. We have suffered instead from what Norman Habel, a bible scholar from Adelaide,  has called ‘heavenism’: we have looked upon this earth as somehow disposable – so much so that for a moment in time there were car bumper bar stickers that proclaimed “In the event of the rapture this car will be driverless”. It’s worth a read. That naming should not come as too much of a surprise. We have become so used to extreme rhetoric of late where fake news and alternative facts trump common sense and diplomatic reserve. Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. St Paul himself—the great evangelist, pastor, teacher, leader, and theologian—St Paul himself bears witness to this very experience as he writes to his protégé, Timothy. That question is, of course, taken from the gospels – and, more particularly, from Luke rather than Mark. With two degrees of warming, three times as many insects and twice as many plants and vertebrates will lose their geographic range. It represents a better option than the conventional default turn to the story of Noah and the covenant God with makes with all creatures in the wake of the great flood. There are no hills, no gentle rises. They have done so in the past as one critical decade gave way to another. That should not have been too surprising, of course. There he sits in the ashes scraping  his sores with a piece of broken pottery; there he is being told by his distressed wife to curse God and die; and there he is on the receiving end of his three friends, Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar: for seven days they had sat with Job in silence only to break it with counsel that will have them become known as Job’s false comforters. I just know it to be true. They feel themselves to have been. The panel had been meeting in Incheon in South Korea; it had been thinking through what would the world look like if the rise in the global temperature exceeded 1.5 degrees set by the Paris agreement in 2015. That screaming sound is couched away in the language of statistics, technical jargon and ‘bureaucratese’. This turn to Job on this ‘Job-like nation’ is more of a positive move than you might first imagine. If St. Paul succeeded in evangelizing the western Roman empire, Luke may have had more to do with it … On October 18th, our Church honors the distinguished figure of St. Luke the Evangelist. We would like to think that he was welcomed warmly by the local Christian community when he arrived in the city as a “minimum security” prisoner, but this letter to Timothy is a sign that it may not have been the case. Will it be home in the same way that we have known? For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Brace yourself: it is not a good read. Sun 14 Oct. Who knows? We camped next to Lake Constance and one day decided to cycle part way round it. There is no elevated land around you. You, who attracted the ones who had been immersed in darkness to the depths of the True God and you saved them from the storm…pray to the Savior Christ and God, to offer us peace, a spiritual life, holy inspiration, enlightenment and His grace. Don’t wait. Help us bring the Orthodox Faith to the fingertips of Orthodox Christians worldwide! October 18. You need to set off at  dawn from Suva – it is a three hour flight into the deep expanse of the Pacific. And if you are feeling especially alone and abandoned today, be on the lookout for your “Luke,” because God is indeed faithful even when those around us are not. It has no knowledge of these small island states. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. But these headlines had nothing to do with these constant companions. In a way which seems a little too close for comfort he asks Job “why is it that a flood of waters covers you?” Job’s complaint is bitter; he maintains his innocence; he knows the absence of God who cannot be found in the east, the west, the nor the south.

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