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A Gospel For All People - Luke’s inclusiveness (feast day 18 October)

To show how Luke’s Gospel demonstrates that Christianity is inclusive of all.

by Paul Hess

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To show how Luke’s Gospel demonstrates that Christianity is inclusive of all.

Preparation and materials

  • Find the song ‘Left outside alone’ by Anastacia (or another song with a similar theme), and have available the means to play it, to introduce the assembly.


  1. Play part of ‘Left outside alone’.What makes this song so powerful is that Anastacia is expressing that feeling of deep hurt we all experience from time to time – ‘Still I wonder if you know, how it really feels, to be left outside alone.’
  2. Can you think back to times in your life when you have felt left out or alone? It might have been because you were not invited to a party or because you were excluded from a particular group of friends or you were left out of the team. The feeling of exclusion is something that cuts deep for all us, because we all want to feel included, to have a sense of belonging.
  3. If we read the Gospels, we can clearly see that, in Jesus’ day, there were certain groups of people who thought of themselves as being part of the ‘in crowd’ – the Pharisees, the respectable, the wealthy – and other people who were considered outcasts – the tax-collectors, the lepers, the poor and so on. The really interesting thing about Jesus is that he seems to have spent most of his time with the outcasts – those who were condemned by so-called respectable society. When the Pharisees questioned him about why he did this, he said it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. In other words, Jesus has come to help sinners, people who are looked down on, rather than those who already believe themselves to be righteous – which means, literally, ‘in the right’.
  4. We can see this particularly in the Gospel of Luke – perhaps because he himself was something of an outsider. Most of the first Christians were Jews, but Luke was a Gentile – that is, a non-Jew – and some of the early Christians believed Gentiles were not entitled to be part of the Church.Luke challenges this, however, by writing down stories about Jesus that show Jesus opening his heart to Gentiles and including them in his ministry. The most famous example is the parable of the good Samaritan, which highlights the love shown by the Samaritan and teaches that Jews and Samaritans should live together as neighbours.Yet Luke is not only concerned with including the Gentiles – he also gives special attention to the poor, women and sinners. It is only in Luke’s Gospel that we read the famous parable of the prodigal (or lost) son, which shows how God responds to human sin with love and forgiveness, instead of wrath and judgement.
  5. Luke’s Gospel, then, shows us that God loves everyone equally and welcomes all people.  In a society that often excludes people for many different reasons – race, gender, sexuality, class and so on – it is a lesson that we must take to heart as we celebrate the feast day of Luke on 18 October.
  6. In our school and in our communities, let us commit ourselves to being inclusive, welcoming to everyone. Instead of focusing on the differences that separate us, let us try to celebrate the common humanity joining us together.

Time for reflection

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ (Luke 5.30–32)

Dear Lord,No one is excluded from your love.Help us to be welcoming and forgiving to all we meet.

Publication date: October 2013   (Vol.15 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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