The Son of Encouragement

This is the first in what we hope to have as an ongoing series of sermon recordings that will be available as a podcast (we’ll post information about getting it through iTunes etc. as soon as that is ready). I’ll be posting the sermons here however, along with any commentary from the pastor that goes with it. I need to fiddle about with it a little, so be patient. – James

From Rev. Mike:

Sunday’s sermon will be the first of three looking at the role a man named Barnabas played in the early Church. His given name was Joseph of Cyprus, but his fellow workers re-named him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement”. Some might consider him a “minor character” but he seems to turn up at some fairly critical times in the life of the Church, when his spirit of encouragement was sorely needed. On Sunday, the scripture lesson is comprised of two passages from the Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 9: 26-51 and Chapter 11: 19-26, which tell us of what happened after Saul (later to be Paul), a persecutor of Christians, had a vision from God on the Damascus Road. When he showed up in the church post-conversion, folks were pretty suspicious of his intentions. Enter Barnabas. Paul Moots, in his book Becoming Barnabas:The Ministry of Encouragement, writes, “Barnabas’ partnership with Saul really began when Barnabas spoke to the apostles on behalf of the church’s former persecutor. In that case, the church had a valid reason for fear. Saul had been enthusiastic in his pursuit and persecution of those following Christ, and the consequences of those he captured had been grave—imprisonment, forfeiture of property, even death. The problem with even this legitimate fear was that it blinded the apostles to a new reality: Saul had changed. . . .By speaking for Saul and against fear, Barnabas made it possible for this new reality to reshape the apostles’ view of Saul, allowing them to support Saul in his ministry.” More than just being a “reference” for Paul, Barnabas and Paul become partners, providing us with a real lesson on how we can partner with and serve one another.

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