Sermons & News
But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. (1 Thessalonians 3: 6)
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June 11, 2021
Beloved in Christ,
June 11th is the Feast Day of St. Barnabas, who holds a special place in my heart. I was born at St. Barnabas Hospital, I served at a St. Barnabas Church, and I was ordained to the diaconate on this day 16 years ago.
St. Barnabas should be admired by all Christians for his selfless support of the faith in earliest days of the Church. He is mentioned many times in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (i.e. 4:36, Chapters 13 & 14). His name means "son of encouragement," and he is most well known for being an encourager and companion of Paul throughout his ministry. Barnabas was also a mediator between Peter and Paul, who did not always "play" nicely together.
As the past 16 months have shown us, we all need to be encouraged. Notice that the root of encourage is "cour" or "heart." When life becomes difficult and stressful, we can forget where our strength comes from. Offering encouragement is lifting people’s hearts, reminding them both that they are deeply loved AND that they have something to offer. Through God’s love we have the strength to endure and even thrive when we use the gifts and talents God has given us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
When the social scientist Brené Brown talks about living "full-heartedly", she means living with a willingness to be vulnerable, opening our hearts up and sharing them with others. This is also encouragement, when we offer ourselves as an example of how to live abundantly.
It is not easy; even Barnabas and Paul parted ways due to an undisclosed issue. Yet both are remembered and celebrated for their contribution to the faith. We can be hurt when offering our hearts and encouraging others to do the same, but that should not stop our willingness to try.
How do we encourage one another? It can be as simple as a kind word spoken or a supportive email or text. Write a card or call someone you have not seem in a while. Tell someone a positive thing you notice about them. You might even tell someone how you see Christ in them! And in all things, we pray for each other and ourselves, trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide us, just as the Spirit guided Barnabas.
The Rev. Canon Valerie L. Balling
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