Luke: let me tell you a story Advent Book club day 3

OK, OK… I know this is the beginning of Day 4 and I’m posting about the readings for Day 3…

Maybe if I tell you that Day 3, for me, began with a 5am alarm, continued with “in the car before 6.30 to drive to school” and ended with “collapse into bed utterly exhausted at 10.45pm after wall-to-wall work” you’ll bear with me! And let me tell you, that partiuclar ending was wonderfully welcome.

Yesterday all I managed was to read the scripture passages suggested – the opening verses of Luke’s gospel – before setting out on my long commute. Those words stayed with me, however, throughout the day and the question which grew and grew in my mind was “why?”.

“Why did Luke, having read and considered other accounts of the significance of the life and death of that carpenter and wandering rabbi from Nazareth, decide that he too would write his own version? He says that all the others undertook, as he says he also intends, “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.”

Is he implying that despite their undertaking, their accounts were after all not orderly? or not accurate? or incomplete? or was it that he thought he knew information to which they hadn’t had access and which would augment the narrative? or was it simply that he wanted his voice to be heard with all the others?

Because our response to a situation is always, and inevitably, very personal. Eye-witnesses to an incident never give identical accounts of the events. As a teacher I am deeply, deeply suspicious if, when attempting to get to the bottom of an incident, I receive identical statements from each pupil involved… conflicting reports are a far better indicator that each is (probably) telling the truth as they saw/experienced/understand it.

However, I kept on returning yesterday to the idea that maybe Luke simply wanted his own voice to be heard. Because isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that a large part of what we’re about in this book club? and in all interactions we have with others? We want our own voice to be heard.

And as for Luke, so for us – if we also take the time and trouble to listen carefully to the voices of others, the whole will be so much greater than the sum of the parts. Because I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be without any of the four Gospels, with their very different accounts and emphases. Just as I wouldn’t want to be without any of the very varied expressions of Christianity that abound in our world, from Evangelical Free Church to high Catholic (whether Roman or Anglican), from Methodist to Coptic, from URC to Orthodox and all stations in between. And more than that – I also wouldn’t want to be without any of the very varied understanidng and expressions of the Presence of God in our lives that abound in our world, from Muslim to Sikh, from Jewish to Buddhist, and yes – from atheist to Christian to name but a few.

Here ends my (very radical, it turns out) thought for – er – for yesterday…

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