Welcome to our celebration of St. Barnabas – our Patronal Festival, as it used to be called. May it be a day of encouragement to us all.
Barnabas, the name, means “son of encouragement.” And St. Barnabas was an important figure in the life of the early church. He was a leader in the church at Antioch and a mentor to Paul earlier in his ministry. You see this in God’s commission to the church at Antioch to “Set aside Barnabas and Saul to the work to which I have called them”.
Later he was the encourager to Mark, when Mark was being a little ‘wayward.’ At that time, Saul, now Paul, didn’t want Mark on their missionary journeys. The person who comes alongside him, mentors him and grows him – by God’s grace of course – was Barnabas. Later we read that Paul asks for Mark to be “sent to him.” The rift is healed and Barnabas, the son of encouragement, appears to have been one of the key people in the process of that healing.
Encouragement is something we all need lots of, isn’t it? When there are issues and circumstances with which we struggle it’s always a blessing when someone comes alongside with encouragement. You know, that’s one of the most important characteristics of encouragement – coming alongside. You’re not seeking to ‘push’ – from behind; you’re not seeking to ‘pull’ – from in front, you’re coming ‘alongside’ – walking with, sharing in where that person is.
What a model for us at Balwyn Anglican! To be the ones who don’t come to condemn, as can so often be the case, but be the ones that “come alongside” individuals, or our city, and encourage, speaking God’s word into their lives or life.
Happy St. Barnabas Day,