Proper 24C (St. Luke’s Day)
20 October 2019 65th Anniversary
Luke 4.14-18
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone

“My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage;” In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 If St. Luke were alive today on earth and in school his parents and teachers would have had no choice but to put him in the ‘gifted and talented’ class! He was a Gentile, highly educated, and was an excellent writer, his Greek is the finest of the entire New Testament. He had a knack for storytelling, and sought to put his Gospel in chronological order. He was a trained physician, and legend has it, he was a skilled painter, and reportedly painted the first icon of the Madonna and Child. He became a companion of Mary, Mark, and Paul, and joined him on his second missionary journey.

In addition to writing the Gospel of Luke he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, the best and most accurate record we have of the early Church and the moving of the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News. The splash he made was of seismic proportions creating a ripple effect that has made it all the way across the Arkansas River to North Little Rock, Arkansas! His gospel contains parables that are not found in the other three gospels, he had a high view of women and included more stories about women, showcasing them as fine examples of the faith. He included more stories about Jesus’ healing miracles, there are more stories about the poor, and minorities; and he wrote down the only birth narratives we have about John the Baptist and the events surrounding and including the birth of Jesus. Simply put, without Luke and his gospel, the ‘Grinch would have stolen Christmas!’ I think it’s safe to say that Luke put all of his gifts and talents to good use for the sake of God’s kingdom. Much later he would become the patron saint of Artists of all kinds, including painters, and is also the patron of brewers, butchers, notaries, and physicians. So, Luke is remembered for healing, the arts, and the healing arts.

In 1954 North Little Rock, AR was the largest city in the country without an Episcopal Church. There was a growing sense both at the diocese and among locals that there was indeed a need for a church on “this side of the river” that would welcome all sorts of people (rich and poor) who would worship in the Anglican tradition, and rely on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason to guide them. St. Luke’s Episcopal Mission was organized under the authority of Bishop R. Bland Mitchell, on March 31, 1954 with 17 charter members. The first service of St. Luke’s was held on May 3, 1954 in the American Legion Hall at 215 West 14th Street. The congregation continued to worship there until our present property was purchased in November 1954. Initial improvements to the frame house located on the site (our current church offices) converted the structure into a chapel, two Sunday School rooms and a kitchen. The first service in this building, located high on the hill at the present site of the church, was Evening Prayer on Christmas Day, 1954.

In the coming years the church would keep their lights burning brightly reaching new heights in the love of God and love of neighbor.   Through each successive generation in each successive chapter of the church, through the highs and the lows and the ups and the downs there were committed clergy as well as a core of dedicated lay people who kept the Light of Christ shining brightly in North Little Rock and beyond.

Theirs was a hearty spirt, a persevering spirt that has been passed down to us and endures to this day. It’s still here folks! In spite of many challenges we’re all still here. And why is that? Why did you enter this building one day and decide to stay? Why do you keep coming back? The answers to these questions are the answers to that biggest question of all for St. Luke’s, “Why does North Little Rock and the surrounding communities need St. Luke’s? What is it that we can bring that hardly anyone else can? Would you like to hear what some people in the wider community have posted on Google about us? The following comments came of the page you come to when you simply Google “St. Luke’s Episcopal Church North Little Rock, AR”: One person posted, Thank u for the help u give me with clothes they great.” Another posted: “If you enjoy a High-Church experience, this is the place for you. The services are beautiful and inspiring and the people are warm, friendly, and kind.” A younger person posted this: “Ever since I walked through the doors, I have felt welcomed and loved. The moment you walk in, you become a part of a family, not a crowd. I love this church and everyone in it.” There were several other brief comments: “This is a great place to be.” “Very cool old ladies there.” “Very giving.” Seven other folks, although they did not comment gave St. Luke’s 5 out of 5 stars! On our Facebook page we have 540 likes! On our Church member only Facebook group we have 90 members! Here are a couple of things that I heard just in the past two weeks by parishioners: As one member walked past another member they quickly turned around and said, “Hey, I didn’t get my hug! I get a hug from you (and they named another church member, and said) those are the only hugs I get all week.” Another parishioner who came by the church office to write a check to help pay for the facelift to the front of our church said, “Fr. Carey, what a blessing it is to be able to do this!”

From these comments from people both inside and outside the church we learn that we are a caring community, a giving community, a worshiping community, a warm and welcoming community, and a loving community. Caring, Giving, Worshipful, Warm, Welcoming, Loving – now that sounds like something I would like to be a part of, and I do believe that is what a umber of people who drive past our red doors are looking for.

That same Spirit that St. Luke experienced and wrote about all those centuries ago is still stirring God’s people to love God, love one another, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. At St. Luke’s we are quality packed! We have more people percapita involved in ministry at this church than many twice its size; from the Clothes Closet to the Choir, from the Churchmen to the DOK, from ECW to BOSA, from the Festival of the Senses to Chancel Handbell Ringers, from caring for homeless families with children to caring for homeless vets at St. Francis House, from Acolytes to the altar guild we are making a difference in our lives, in our homes, and in our community.

The smashing of our church sign months ago seemed at the time to be a tragedy, I can’t think of a better symbol for the hard times we have weathered, but today we have a beautiful new sign, and on this St. Luke’s Day, I believe it is a sign of the new thing that God is doing!

By following the Way of Love,

We will accomplish God’s call for us to be:

  • An oasis of welcome in a hostile world
  • A place of unity in a divided nation
  • And a house of love in a desert of hate.


It Really is all about Love!  I John 4.18