Fr. David's sermon
12th June 2005
'For he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.'
That verse is St. Luke's description of St. Barnabas whose feast we celebrated yesterday. I found myself writing about Barnabas the encourager for the 'In faith' column in the Watford Observer. As I said there he is special to me because I was a curate at St. Barnabas' Church, Wirral. I thought I share some more thoughts about him today.
If you study the Gospels, Epistles and the Acts of the Apostles carefully you will find many references to individuals who played a part in the story of the early church. Thus in today's gospel there is a list of the twelve although Luke does not include Barnabas amongst them. As well as the main characters like Paul and Peter there are those who superficially seem little more than extras and yet two thousand years they are remembered. Some unfortunates like Judas Iscariot feature because of their wrongdoing and evil nature. Others are recalled for their good qualities. All that we know about some early Christians is summed up in a few pithy phrases that somehow encapsulate their personality. Their memory warms us, inspires us.
The Russian word for a saint, prepodobnia, is best translated as 'very, very like'. The saints are thus very, very like Jesus. Those short NT pen portraits skilfully capture the ways in which some early Christians were very, very like Jesus. We should note that the NT does not simply present us with plaster saints. Some of the bad features of the good are conveyed too, which is somehow reassuring to us. We can connect with them, relate to them because like us they are flawed before they are redeemed.
So back now to St. Barnabas, let's spend time some time getting to know him better.
Through those three verses from Acts we discover three aspects of Barnabas, his generosity, his work of reconciliation and his shared ministry of teaching and evangelism, each helping us to get to know him better and inspiring us in our own discipleship. In the Gospel for St. Barnabas' Day from St. John 15 Jesus calls us 'friends'. Barnabas was a friend of Jesus and of many others. Friendship is a special quality that binds the church together. Let us ask God to help us to grow in friendship, with one another as with St. Barnabas.
Let us pray.
O Lord God Almighty, who didst endue thy Holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of thy Holy Ghost: Leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them alway to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated 12/06/2005 09:30 Author: David Shepherd