Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sermon: St. Barnabas (Obs)

Sermon for July 1, 2014 ~ 10:00 Healing Service
Feast Day of St. Barnabas (Observed)
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
For online access to the readings click here
I speak to you in the name of One God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today we observe the feast day of St. Barnabas,
whose actual feast day is June 11,
but transferred the observance to today.

Barnabas appears largely in the history of the church;
we commemorate his feast day normally every June.
My guess is that most of you have read of him or know about him.  What do you all know about Barnabas?

Short Bio bits:
·        Born in Cyprus, was a Jew of the Dispersion (like Paul)
·        Not one of the “twelve” but likely one of the 70 sent by Jesus
·        Named in Acts as having “sold land and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet”
·        Barnabas took Paul by the hand to the the faithful and introduced him, guaranteeing his good faith.
·        Apostles called B to leave Jerusalem and go to Antioch.  He went to Tarsus to find Paul and they worked together in Antioch for over a year.  Antioch – where disciples were first called Christians. (~12 miles from Syria on far Eastern border of Turkey).
·        Part of his mission was to collect money for the poor; this was then taken to Jerusalem (w Paul), returning to Antioch.
·        Much travel: Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Phos, Perga, Iconium, Lystra, returning to Antioch; as we heard in the reading from Acts today.
·        Name: Originally called Joseph but they changed his name to B, meaning “son of encouragement.”

Now that is a legacy – to be called son of encouragement. 

So for today, perhaps we can reflect on encouragement in our own lives.
How can we know Barnabas, through the Holy Spirit,
in the many people who encourage us.

Take a moment *pause*
and close your eyes if you like.
Think of a time recently when you needed encouragement.  *pause*
Think of what was on your mind and heart at the time.    Bring to mind the circumstances, the situation, the people involved, your feelings about it.
Now pull into focus that person
who said just the right thing to you,
who may not even have noticed
that was *just* what you needed to hear.

Think about what that person said.
Think about how the person said it.
Think about how it landed in your heart and
like a pebble in the water,
resonated rings of healing salve into your whole being,
filling you up with love and compassion.
What an amazing gift you received.

Does anyone want to share their story of receiving encouragement?

Perhaps today is one of those days, when you come to the Healing service needing encouragement for
·        Finding healing in the midst of yours, or another’s, illness,
·        Navigating reconciliation for yours, or another’s broken relationship
·        Knowing liberation from yours, or another’s dis-ease of addictions
·        Hope and healing from yours, or another’s recent death of a loved one
·        Empowerment to move out of yours, or another’s apathy or depression

We all need encouragement from time to time.
The root of the word is, of course,
“courage” which comes from the heart,
or “Coeur” in latin. 

To “en” courage is to “lift up your hearts”
as we say in the Eucharistic prayer.
We lift them up to God,
knowing that it was God who put those hearts in us.
 We received that gift and
we give it up to the Lord in return. 
This is the flow of the Holy Spirit. 
We received freely, so we give freely.

In turning to the Gospel message today,
these are the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples
as he sent them out,
“As you go, proclaim the good news…
Cure the sick
Raise the dead,
Cleanse the lepers,
Cast out demons…
You received without payment; give without payment.”

As Teresa of Avila once said,

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

In the Gospel teaching, as in this quote,
we receive the empowerment,
from God to be like Barnabas,
a son or daughter of en-couragement to others,
just as we have received encouragement.

With that promise of God’s faithful love,
we are encouraged to “proclaim the good news” –
to share with those who are in need of
‘healing’ touch
that God is with them,
that the Lord is healing them, that they are not alone…

We are encouraged today by God’s gift of grace
to be generous as the Lord has been generous with us. 

And so I ask you today, if you are willing,
to practice encouraging others,
to heal each other with the prayer of healing,
for it is in healing others
that we may recognize healing for ourselves.

Here are short prayer cards
that you can use to say prayers for each other. 
I invite you to turn to one another
and find one person to say this prayer. 
I lay my hands upon you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, beseeching  him to uphold you and fill you with grace, that you may know the healing power of his love.

Today’s good news is that we are encouraged,
by Barnabas and through the same Holy Spirit of God,
to be encouragers of each other.


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