Sermons 2006
"Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Advent 1C 1006 Luke 21:25-31

Beginning today we are in Lectionary Year C, having left year B and the Gospel of Mark behind us last Sunday. Year C is the year devoted primarily to reading the Gospel according to Saint Luke.

So today we will take a general overall look at Saint Luke’s Gospel, and what its context and purpose were and are, and to whom it was originally addressed and why. This will, I hope, help to provide a framework for the year ahead.

The tradition has it that this Gospel, also known as the Third Gospel, and Acts of the Apostles were written by the man known as Luke the Physician. Taken together, the Gospel according to Saint Luke and Acts of the Apostles comprise one fourth of the length of the New Testament.

The tradition – and some internal evidence in Acts – suggest that this Luke was the sometimes travel and prison companion of Saint Paul, who also mentions Luke in three of his letters (Col 4.14, Phil 24, 2 Tim 4:11). Luke probably was an eyewitness to many of the vents described in Acts of the Apostles. And Saint Paul attests himself in his second Letter to Timothy that Luke alone remained with him during Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome before his execution. Indeed, many of the sections in Acts of the Apostles have an eyewitness feeling to them.

But Luke was not an eyewitness to the events he recorded in his Gospel nor did he claim to be. He probably wrote sometime between 85 and 95 AD, certainly after the Fall of Jerusalem to the Romans and the destruction of the Temple. Luke was clearly familiar with these events.

Mark’s Gospel and Paul’s earlier letters are filled with the expectation of the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But not so Luke. Luke is writing for a 3rd and 4th generation Church which was mostly Gentile Christian. It was a Church attempting to come to grips with the fact that the Second Coming had not occurred and was beginning to believe that it was not imminent and would not occur soon.

Luke wrote as both historian and theologian: “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account …so that you may know the truth….

In fact, Luke combined both disciplines into a particular Lucan “theology of history: Let’s get the facts straight, and then explain what they mean.”

Luke understood history and God’s revelation of himself as divided into three eras:
The first was the time of the Old Testament, the time of Israel, a time now finished.
The second was the brief time of the earthly presence of the Son of God, the historical Jesus Christ, the key to understanding history.
The third was the time of the Church, the time of and in which Luke was writing, and which would extend into an indefinite future, until the Second Coming actually occurred, whenever in God’s time that would be.

In the Third Gospel there is clear continuity from one era to the next: Clear continuity between the Law, institutions, and prophecies of Judaism and Jesus himself. And between Judaism, Jesus, and the earliest small church established in and by the small band of disciples present at the Last Supper – their Jewish Passover feast.

Because the Second Coming had not occurred, the Christian’s of Luke’s Day – and especially Gentile Christians needed – needed a clear sense of their past and its continuities into the present in order to move on into the future. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles responded to that need. So for Luke the historian. (1)

The message of Luke the theologian, what does this history mean, is this: Luke’s presentation of the saving work of God done through Jesus Christ is shaped by Luke’s understanding of God’s gracious outreach and wide embrace of all of the children of God. The work of Christ is particularly redemption, of release from, and the overthrow of, all that holds people in the clutches of powers that restrict the fullness of life that God wills for them. Luke understands God to be most of all merciful, reaching out to all people in a creative and forgiving acceptance.

Luke understands Jesus as having a special concern for women and those who are on the fringes of society and respectability: the poor, the outcast – Samaritans as well as the tax collectors, prostitutes, and the other sinners with whom he had a habit of eating and drinking. (2)

A brief word about signs: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth, distress among nations….”

Signs are not a new thing to us; we are surrounded by them. We aren’t frightened by signs, only by their absence. We follow signs everywhere we go: road signs to wherever it is we wish to arrive on a particular day, signs telling us the name of our destination and how many miles to go. House and building numbers are signs telling us how close we are to an address. The signs of Thanksgiving when Halloween decorations go down and Christmas decorations go up. How many of us remember the old Burma Shave signs? Crosses and road sign shrines at the sites of fatal accidents.

Signs of the season, Leaf Fall, Winter cold, Spring leafing, Summer heat. “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”

Which signs are we going to follow this advent? The ones to the kingdom of God? How about the signs to Bethlehem and the Christ Child we will meet there anew?


1. Sermon of Advent 1C 1994, revised.
2. Franklin, Eric. “Luke”, in John Barton and John Muddiman, editors, The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 925.

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