Liturgy by TLW



Planning for St. Luke’s Day

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

October 18


Because St. Luke was a physician (Col.4.14) as well as a missionary companion of Paul, “St. Luke's day is a traditional time to emphasize the church’s ministry of healing by showing concern for hospitals and nursing homes, for doctors and nurses, and by conducting healing services. It is also . . . an especially appropriate time to consider the nature, characteristics, and spirit of the Gospel according to St. Luke and of its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles" (P. Pfatteicher, Festivals and Commemorations, p.396).

The "Service of the Word for Healing" (Occasional Services 1982, pp.89-98) is especially appropriate for the Day of St. Luke. However, according to liturgy planners, the service is NOT intended to replace the chief service on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, I am aware that many pastors have become interested in this healing service and have desired to use it on a Sunday morning. While our Occasional Services does not provide for a eucharist with the healing liturgy, the Roman and Episcopal parallels do. Therefore, as we consider the following ideas for the Sunday morning eucharist for the festival of St. Luke, I will include possibilities for incorporating parts of the "Service of the Word for Healing."

1. Color of the day is red. Pentecost banners are appropriate. Other decorations might include items related to healing and the healing professions and the healing that comes from the gospel of Christ. Background on the history of this feast can be found in Festivals and Commemorations, pp.39~-98. Background and commentary on the "Service of the Word for Healing" may be found in P, Pfatteicher, Commentary on the Occasional Services, Fortress 1983, pp.104-112.

2. Unless a service of healing is planned, consider omitting the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness. If a service of healing is planned, include the Brief Order here or following the Prayer of the Church (and before the Laying of Hands and Anointing).

3. Entrance Hymn "Rise, O Children of Salvation," or "How Firm a Foundation." For other hymn suggestions, see M.Stulken, Hymnal Companion to the LBW (Fortress 1981), p.598, and hymns listed in the notes to the "Service of the Word for Healing," Occ. Serv. pp.97-98.

4. Replace the Apostolic Greeting and Kyrie with the following "Dialog of the Saints":


A. Praise the Lord, all you saints!

C. Praise the Lord, you heavenly hosts!


A. So great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us.

C. They witness to God's mighty acts.


A. They witness to God's steadfast love.

C. Their witness guides us in our faith.


A. Give thanks to God for St. Luke, the Evangelist,

C. Who tells of Christ's healing power.


A. Sing praise to God, sing praises.

C. Sing praise and thanks for all God's saints.


5. Hymn of Praise: "Glory to God," followed by the Salutation and Prayer of the Day.

6. Lessons for the day are Is.43:8-13, Ps. 124, 2 Tm.4:5-11 and Lk.1:1-4; 24.44-53. (The optional reading for the first lesson is not usually printed on ELCA lectionary inserts.)

7. As mentioned above, sermon material can relate to Luke as Evangelist and/or physician, with implications of healing drawn from the gospel of Christ.

8. Hymn of the Day "By All Your Saints in Warfare," "Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old," or "O God, Whose Will Is Life and Good." If your congregation does not know these latter two Common Meter (CM) hymns, either may be sung to St. Anne ("O God, our Help").  I frequently have congregations sing “By All Your Saints” to Lancashire (“Lead On, O King Eternal).

9. If a Creed is desired, use the Apostles'.

10. The Prayer of the Church may include petitions for: the gift of the Spirit, compassion, the poor and outcast, those in healing professions, hospitals and nursing homes. OR Print out the prayers from the "Service of the Word for Healing," Occ. Serv. pp.91-93. (These may be used even if you are not planning to include Laying of Hands and Anointing.)

11. As mentioned above, the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness may be included at this point if Laying of Hands and Anointing is planned.

12. If Laying of Hands and Anointing is desired, then follow rubrics #18-21 (first paragraph of 21 only) on pp.94-95 of the Occ. Serv.

13. The Peace would be shared at this point.

14. During the Offering sing Hymn "Oh, For a Thousand Tongues," standing for the last stanza as the gifts are presented. (Omit the Offertory in the liturgy.)

15. If the Laying of Hands and Anointing has been used, consider using the Great Thanksgiving's Preface Dialog followed by Eucharistic Prayer XI ELW or IV LBW, omitting the Proper Preface and Sanctus. If the Laying of Hands and Anointing has NOT been used, then use the Great Thanksgiving with the Proper Preface for All Saints, the Sanctus, and Eucharistic Prayer I.

16. Hymns during Distribution: consult the hymn list in Stulken p.598, as well as in the notes in the Occ. Serv. pp.97-98.

17. If a Post-Communion Canticle is desired, use "Lord, Now You Let."

18. Use a Post-Communion Prayer that speaks of healing, such as the first option in both the ELW and LBW.

19. If a Recessional Hymn is desired, use the Doxology or 1 or 2 stanzas from a hymn previously mentioned.