11th June 2023 10.30am – Barnabas the Apostle Eucharist

The Readings

Acts 11.19-end

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they associated with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’.

At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

John 15.12-17

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
The Revd Dr Beth Keith.

Today the church remembers Barnabas, and we’ve listened to one of
the narratives about him from Acts 11.

Barnabas was actually called Joseph but got renamed Barnabas.
Earlier in Acts, in chapter 4 we are told that the Apostles called him
Barnabas which means Son of Encouragement. This was his nick
name, the name he got from the leaders of the Church because of the
type of person he was, he was known as an encourager.
We don’t actually know a lot about him, but he is one of the
background people in the NT who was hugely influential in the
founding and growth of the early church. We know this, because we
know that he played a crucial role in the life and ministry of Paul, and
in the life and ministry of Mark.

You may recall that when Paul first converted to the faith, other
followers of Jesus were afraid of him. Paul, or Saul as he had been
known, had been a brutal enemy of Jesus’ disciples. He had arrested
many and had even aided in their deaths. Unsurprisingly those in
Jerusalem were frightened when he appeared.  In Acts 9 we read,
"When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they
were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple."
How strange it must have seemed that this man who had been
persecuting them now professed the faith. Was it a trick, a way of
infiltrating their group so he could destroy them? Or was this for real?
Had he honestly come to faith?

Chapter 9 continues… "But Barnabas took him and brought him to
the Apostles." Barnabas took him right to them and made it clear that

Paul was truly converted, and they did not need to fear him. Through
this Paul became accepted in the church. Barnabas was the friend
that helped Paul overcome his bad reputation, Barnabas supported
him and was an advocate for him, which in turn affected how others
treated him.

Barnabas went on to play a major role in Paul’s ministry. In Acts 11,
which we just read, we heard about the church at Jerusalem sending
Barnabas to Antioch. When Barnabas saw the great work he was glad
and encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Verse 24 describes Barnabas as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit
and faith.."

The church was growing rapidly in Antioch, I imagine it was an
exciting time to be there. People were coming to Christ under
Barnabas’ ministry. He could have carried on there alone, but we read
that he decided to go to Tarsus to look for Paul. Barnabas brought
Paul back to Antioch, and for a year they taught they ministered
together. Barnabas mentoring Paul, and encouraging him in the faith,
and in ministry. It was there in Antioch that disciples were first called

Of course, we can’t make too many assumptions about what
happened, or how things would have been different if Barnabas had
not supported and encouraged Paul. But it seems highly unlikely that
Paul would have been there in Antioch had Barnabas not gone to get
him. We do know from the text that Barnabas went and got him and
took him into active ministry and that changed Paul’s life and the life
of the church.

Barnabas was also important in the life and ministry of Mark.

Later when Barnabas and Paul were heading out to visit all the
churches, Barnabas suggests they take Mark with them, but Paul
didn’t want to because Mark had let them down the previous time.
Barnabas, again showing himself as an encourager, decided to give
Mark a chance, and so he and Paul went their separate ways.
Barnabas took Mark, and Paul went with Silas. Luke who wrote the
book of Acts and who gives us the detailed history of this time,
followed Paul, so the rest of the book of Acts, continues with the
travels of Paul and Silas, and we don’t know much about what Mark
and Barnabas get up to.

But later on in the letter 2 Timothy Paul writes
"Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my

It seems by this point that Paul has changed him mind about Mark.
Barnabas choose to continue to support Mark and over time Paul saw
the fruit of Mark’s ministry. Barnabas had been there for Paul when
he was being written off by other members of the church, and he had
also been there for Mark too. No wonder Barnabas was nicknamed

Mark went on to write the first Gospel that was written, with the other
gospels of Matthew and Luke using and developing from Marks text.
Barnabas, this minor seemingly minor character in the NT didn’t write
any of the NT books, and appears in only a few verses, but appears to
have had a crucial role in the lives of both Paul, and Mark, who
together wrote a significant percentage of the NT we have today.
I wonder if you can think of someone who has been an encourager in
your life. Someone who has been there to offer support and
friendship, someone who has cheered you on or seen some potential
in you that others have not…

What is so important about encouragement?

It literally gives us courage – sometimes we face tough challenges,
having people alongside to cheer us on, and show their commitment
and love for us is so important.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed or just not up to the task God is
asking us to do next. Encouragement helps us feel we are not alone,
and that the situation is not more than we can manage
Sometimes we do something, or life turns out in a way which makes us
feel there is no future, perhaps we have messed up, and that it’s all
over now. The encouragement of others reminds us of God’s love and
care for us.

Encouragement keeps us going and helps us to have hope for the

I want to end with two challenges - earlier I asked you to think about
someone who has encouraged you. Perhaps you could thank them for
the role they have played in your life. Encouragement is one of those
gifts that can be easily overlooked. They may well be encouraged by
your appreciation.

Secondly, have a think about someone you could encourage. I’m not
suggesting that you go and get them and bring them to Walkley (as
Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch). But is there way you could
encourage them – a kind word, a prayer or perhaps sending them a
card or text saying what you see in them.

May God, giver of all gifts, who gave Barnabas the gift of
encouragement, pour the Spirit into our lives, that we might know
God’s love and encouragement and share it with those around us.


The Prayers
Prepared by Barbara.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known on
earth, your saving health among all nations ...

We pray for all those affected by wildfires everywhere, thinking today particularly of those in Canada, which
is on fire in most provinces. Please help us to be good custodians of the world you have given us, that it may
continue to be a good home for all the life with which we share it.

We pray also for all those affected by war, thinking especially of those in Sudan and Ukraine. Please help us
to live in peace and friendship, wherever we are.

We pray for all refugees and asylum seekers needing somewhere to live in this country, thinking especially
of those from Afghanistan who are facing the need to find new accommodation soon. Please help us to be
generous and welcoming to these people, remembering that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were once refugees.
We pray for all those severely affected by the cost of living crisis here in the UK, facing hard choices about
what necessities they can afford. We think of those who are struggling to afford to keep a roof over their

Please help us to keep all these people in our hearts and to be generous in helping them when we can.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We pray for your Church throughout the world; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who
profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit,
in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life ...

Please help us to remember that we are all brothers and sisters in your family and to learn to love and
accept each other for who we are.

We pray especially for your church here in Walkley and in our partner parishes of Broomhill and Ranmoor.
Please help us all to strive to be at the heart of our communities.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body or
estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good out of
their troubles ...

We pray for those suffering from breathing difficulties. Please help them to cope with the challenges posed
by pollen and wildfire smoke.

We thank you for the generosity of people throughout the parish who have supported St. Mary’s in the
acquisition of a community defibrillator. Please help our community to use it wisely and effectively.

In moments of peace and contemplation, we name to you all those known to us who are suffering. Please
care for them and for all those of whose suffering we are unaware.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your
faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints ...

We name to you in our hearts all those known to us both near and far, asking that you bring your comfort
and healing to their families and friends at this time of grief.

All this we ask for Jesus Christ’s sake.


Merciful Father,
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.