May I speak in the name of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
There is a painting that hangs on the wall of the north transept of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh; it was painted in the cathedral in 1910.
The painting is of the Cathedral’s interior. The scene depicted is a mass being celebrated. In the image, the congregation have come to the altar rail to receive Holy Communion, but that is not the focus. In the foreground there are two figures; one, a woman shrouded in darkness. She is kneeling at the back of the church behind the pews, not a part of the celebration. She is known as ‘the penitent woman’. Standing next to her with an outstretched arm is the risen Lord bathed in light. A complete contrast to the penitent woman.
Sermon preached at St Matthews Westminster on Sunday, 16 June 2013.
There is a poignant - almost wistful - phrase in St Paul's second letter to Timothy, ‘only Luke's with me’ . At one level it speaks of St Paul's isolation, imprisonment and all the other privations he endures – ‘only Luke is with me’ - and yet at another level when I read that evocative phrase I whisper ‘Thank God’. Not thank God St Paul was so alone, but that thank God that it was Luke who was his lone companion.