Janet`s July 2018 letter to the Community

I’m writing this piece on the 11th June; yes – the deadline was yesterday, but it was a very busy week and the Editor is merciful!  Today is the Feast of St Barnabas.  Barnabas was an apostle.  He wasn’t one of the Twelve who was with Jesus during his ministry, but emerged very early in the life of the church as a significant leader.  He sold his property and gave the proceeds to the church and, later, was trusted by the church in Antioch with their money when they sent famine relief to the believers in Judea.  So we know he was both generous and honest.  We also know that he was a teacher and preacher, that he had courage and great diplomatic skills and that he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  Read the Book of Acts chapters 4 and 9-13 to get the detail.

There are two other significant things about Barnabas.  Firstly, he was the person who supported the Apostle Paul after his conversion, who introduced him to the Jewish church and helped him establish his credentials.  Barnabas was key in ensuring that St Paul was able to launch his ministry – and the rest, as they say, is history.

The second important aspect of Barnabas’s life, which relates to his sponsorship of Paul, is that his name wasn’t “Barnabas”.  He was actually called “Joseph”, but the apostles gave him the name “Barnabas”, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4.36).  Barnabas was someone who encouraged others.  He encouraged and supported St Paul.  He encouraged and supported John Mark (Acts 15.36-39).  As Barnabas had been given the name when we first meet him, he doubtless encouraged many others also.

Barnabas was an encourager.  We need encouragers: in our home and family lives, in the life of the church and in public life.  We hear of the devastating impact on our politicians and public figures of constant social media attacks.  We know how hard it is for children to grow into confident, respectful and self-respecting adults when they are never valued or encouraged themselves.  And in the church – I wonder how many excellent contributions went unnoticed and unappreciated and so dwindled to nothing?  I wonder how many potential leaders have not emerged because their early attempts were not encouraged?  I wonder how many actual leaders have given up the fight because nothing seemed to be good enough?  Encouragement can turn all that around.  We can make a difference.

Let us be encouragers!   With every blessing,


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