St Luke's Day
St Luke is the author not only of a gospel story about Jesus but also the book of Acts, which describes the growth of the Christian Church in the first century. According to the New Testament, he was a doctor (Colossians 4:14), who accompanied St Paul on some of his missionary journeys. Luke gives us an eyewitness account of Paul's adventures and in particular of the shipwreck that they experienced on their way to Rome. Luke writes his history of the life of Jesus and the Church to explain what happened to a Greek-speaking audience. His writing shows a particular concern for the status of women, the poor and outsiders in society. He is keen to demonstrate that the good news about Jesus is for everyone. It seems very likely that in his careful research Luke spent time with Mary the mother of Jesus who gave him information for the Christmas story recorded in the opening chapters of his gospel. The following outline is for a collective worship focus on Luke the doctor with a link to one of the stories of Jesus only found in Luke's gospel.
You will find the following Barnabas in Schools book very useful: Stories of Everyday Saints by Veronica Heley.
You will also need to rehearse a small group of children to mime various jobs and in particular the work of a doctor. Other children can be involved in helping to act out the Bible story.
1. I wonder how good you are at recognising jobs from mime. What jobs do you think are being mimed by the children I have asked to help me?
Play a mime game, either by having different jobs mimed and ending up with a mime for a doctor or alternatively having several different mimes of a doctor's job - for example, using a stethoscope, testing reflexes, taking blood pressure, looking into ears and throats, tapping chest and back, feeling glands.
2. Ask the children who has been to the doctors in the last week? The last month? The last year? Doctors have a very important place in our everyday lives as they can help us get well again when we are ill. Even if you've never been ill, it is still good to know that there is a doctor there just in case.
3. Doctors do such important work for us. They have long years of training to learn all they need about how our body works and to be able to decide what sorts of medicines or treatment we need. It's a big job!
4. It is such an important job that Christians usually remember the work of those who care for the sick when they pray in church every week. They know that doctors will need God's help to do a good job. Today is the day that the Christian Church remembers St Luke, who was a doctor. He was also a writer and is the author of two books in the Bible about Jesus and how the Church began. As a doctor he travelled with St Paul, who told people about Jesus. We know that Paul also got ill - possibly with poor eyesight - and that the others who travelled with them became sick sometimes. It is quite likely that it would have been St Luke who used his skill as a doctor to treat them as they travelled.
5. Luke's story about Jesus contains many examples of how he healed those who were sick. He was particularly interested in how Jesus helped those whom most doctors had given up on and for whom nobody else really cared at any more. Christians believe that God calls us to care for all people whatever their background and however sick or ill they may be.
One of the stories that only Luke records is found in Chapter 13:10-17. It is about a woman who had had a severe back problem for many years. Others no longer cared for her but Jesus noticed her and did something.
6. The story could be acted out by a few children as it is read. You will need one group to be those who are the congregation in a synagogue and at least three other individuals (the woman, Jesus and the leader of the synagogue). The congregation needs to rehearse looking annoyed, then surprised, then shocked and finally full of joy. The synagogue ruler needs to be angry with Jesus once the healing has taken place. Jesus needs to hold out his hand towards the woman as a sign of healing. The woman should at first be bent double and then slowly she straightens up as she is healed. Read the story slowly in a modern version of the Bible and cue in the actions from the children for the different characters involved.
7. St Luke knew that being a doctor who could heal people was a great gift but it was a gift that came from God and doctors needed God's help. Not all illnesses are to do just with our bodies. We can be sick in other ways too - because we are sad, lonely, fearful or worried. St Luke knew that only God can help us with all these illnesses and sicknesses and that God's power works alongside operations and tablets to change things. St Luke used his skill as a doctor but he also knew about the power of prayer. He would have asked God to be close to those he treated. Christians do the same today. This too is healing.
8. Have a time for reflection and prayer when the children can thank God for doctors and the way they help us; pray for those they know who were sick; and ask God to give them the extra healing of peace that only God can bring.