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The Feast of St. Barnabas

 

 

 

Opening Verses

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Gathering Prayer

Almighty God, who gave to some of your followers the grace to be apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, perfect us and all your saints for the work of ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, till we come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Hymn: Blessed feasts of blessed martyrs    Latin, tr. Neale     Hymnal 1982 #238

  1. Blessed feasts of blessed martyrs, holy women, holy men,
    with affection’s recollections greet we your return again.
    Worthy deeds they wrought, and wonders, worthy of the Name they bore;
    we, with meetest praise and sweetest, honor them for evermore.
  2. Faith prevailing, hope unfailing, loving Christ with single heart,
    thus they, glorious and victorious, bravely bore the martyr’s part,
    by contempt of every anguish, by unyielding battle done;
    victors at the last, they triumph, with the host of angels one.
  3. Therefore, ye that reign in glory, fellow heirs with Christ on high,
    join to ours your supplication when before him we draw nigh,
    praying that, this life completed, all its fleeting moments past,
    by his grace may we be worthy of eternal bliss at last.

Psalm 112     Beatus vir

1        Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord *
and have great delight in his commandments!

2        Their descendants will be mighty in the land; *
the generation of the upright will be blessed.

3        Wealth and riches will be in their house, *
and their righteousness will last for ever.

4        Light shines in the darkness for the upright; *
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.

5        It is good for them to be generous in lending *
and to manage their affairs with justice.

6        For they will never be shaken; *
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.

7        They will not be afraid of any evil rumors; *
their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord.

8        Their heart is established and will not shrink, *
until they see their desire upon their enemies.

9        They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands for ever; *
they will hold up their head with honor.

10      The wicked will see it and be angry; gnash their teeth and pine away; *
the desires of the wicked will perish.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,*
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen

 

The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 49:1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.

2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

4But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.”

5And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength —

6he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant  to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

 

Hymn: By all your saints still striving    Horatio Nelson       Hymnal 1982 #231

  1. By all your saints still striving, for all your saints at rest,
    your holy Name, O Jesus, for evermore be blessed.
    You rose, our King victorious that they might wear the crown
    and ever shine in splendor reflected from your throne.
  2. For Barnabas we praise you, who kept your law of love
    and, leaving earthly treasures, sought treasures from above.
    O Christ our Lord and Savior, let gifts of grace descend,
    that your true consolation may through the world extend.
  3. Then let us praise the Father and worship God the Son
    and sing to God the Spirit, eternal Three in One.
    till all the ransomed number who stand before the throne
    ascribe all power and glory and praise to God alone.

The New Testament Lesson: Acts 11:19-30

19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

27At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One 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. 29The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; 30this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Homily: Son of Encouragement, Shaker of Dust

It’s not much to look at now, Antioch – ruins, mostly, not far from the Turkish town of Antakya, whose name derives from it. Back in Jesus’s time, however, it was a bustling river town, not far from the sea, close to the trade routes heading east into the Fertile Crescent, and west across the Mediterranean. By some accounts, it was the third largest city in the empire, just after Rome and Alexandria. Christianity set its roots there deep and early, not le0ast because of people like Barnabas, and it appears that it was in Antioch that those who followed Jesus were first called “Christians.”

The term wasn’t, originally, meant as a compliment. Those who used it tended to disparage these “partisans of Christos,” who came off as spiritual know-it-all holier-than-thous who looked down their noses at any who disagreed with them or just wouldn’t listen “Christians” taught a new thing – Christ has risen from the dead and set people free from sin – and sought, on the basis of that, to change everything. Hold on, people said. Wait a minute. Let’s see how this plays out, not rush things, make sure. Others said, no, it sounds great, ‘bout time for a change.

Barnabas had seen all this before, in Jerusalem. He knew that the way of Jesus could set people against each other, and sometimes set people’s teeth in edge. He was sent up there because he knew what to do.

It all started when one day in Jerusalem, a guy from Cyprus named Joseph, who had apparently left home for the big city some time back, heard Peter, James, Mary, John and the other disciples preaching and teaching in the temple. He listened carefully to what the followers of Jesus had to say – and watched what they did. He knew a good thing when he saw it – given who he was, he had especial reason to.

See Joseph was Levite, descended from people who helped run the first temple, which Solomon built, and who could always find work in the new temple, which Herod built, the one in Jerusalem. In ancient Israel, Levites were given cities but could not own land, since “the Lord was their inheritance.” They were, in essence, landless cogs in the temple machine, set apart for their particular functions only they could do, like sing and carry things, but also vulnerable to life’s chances and changes. They were not to cultivate wealth, trades, or careers of their own, and tended to depend on the charity, or guilt- and sin-offerings, of the faithful. Some worked a side hustle here and there, but mostly they were a kind of civil servant, whether or not they wanted to be.

Thus, Joseph had a job, that is – an okay job, scut-work at the temple, though they try to dress it up, make it sound nice – but a job. He saw how people were, how the bosses treated them – the bosses were the priests, which only certain Levites could be, and Joseph wasn’t one of them. But if you want to know how any place really runs, ask the people who work there. They’re the ones who see things as they really are – the good and the bad, and how little and rarely things changed.

You see, when you’re marked as different – doubly different, in a Levite’s case, being both a Jew in a world where most people weren’t, and a rare kind of Jew, marked off amidst your own people, with certain things only you can do and thus have to do, whether you like it or not – you see things from the outside and the inside at once. You feel included, up to a point – but also that you’ll never quite belong, never be quite they same as everyone else, never just plain folks. “Oh, yeah, here comes Joey Halevi [Ha-Levi, meaning Son of Levi, is the surname of many Levites]. Must be nice – special jobs at the temple, always gets a good seat, nice parking spot. They think they’re so high and mighty.” “Why’s your family the only one that gets to sing and stuff, keep the keys and all?” Sometimes, too, it may be “Hey, Joe. We don’t say it enough, but thanks for all you do,” but whether it’s praise or disdain you feel, you know you’re different. You see who treats you well and who doesn’t – and often that they treat others as well or poorly as they treat you.

Joey from Cyprus, that is, knows what anyone in a service or helping profession knows: what people are really like, down deep and for real. He must’ve had a little something on the side to do for some extra cash, since he owned a field outright, had done alright for himself. But an okay job at the temple and a little piece of land might’ve been enough for some people, but not for Joseph, as it turns out – not when he saw what the followers of Jesus were all about, not once he saw that they really were changing the world for the better. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day working at the temple in Jerusalem. That’s something you don’t see every day working anywhere.

So he thought about what he saw, what he heard, and made a decision. The results of that decision bring him into our story, into the book of Acts, and into the rolls of those whom we still honor today as leaders and founders of our faith.

Joey from Cyprus came, saw the disciples gathered, sharing all that they had with one another, making sure no-one went without. He heard them praying, teaching, reading scripture to one another, and doing all kinds of deeds of power and goodness. He learned that they did all this because of this Christ, this Jesus they spoke about. He saw them sell all they had to give to the poor and make it so that no-one in the group would ever be poor again. They were on fire – remember, this is just after Pentecost – and they were fulfilled, and they were happy.

Joey saw all and joined them right away. He sold that field he had – no need for his own vineyard or sheepfold now – and gave the money over, no question. Then he did what pastors always want new parishioners to do: he jumped in with both feet to get involved, to help, to learn, to listen, and eventually to lead. They were so impressed that they gave him a new name: Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation.” Feel-good Barney or Attaboy Barnes, we might say, the one who knows how to keep the lights on and the people fed, speak truth, and be kind.

He did very well, and inspired others to do likewise, and rose rapidly in that little circle of fresh believers. He helped them get rid of the skivers and frauds, phonies and hangers-on that barnacle themselves onto any new initiative or good idea. He kept his head down and his heart pure, used those get-along skills to make this bright new thing keep shining. The next thing we hear about him is this: they send him to Antioch to do likewise with the new Christians up there. It works, on both sides. They liked him, and he liked them: “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.”

Yes, they sent the A-team to the empire’s Chicago, and he showed them, and all of us, how it’s done. A good man did well, having literally sold all he had to give to the poor and to the cause, and made the faith not only grow, but grow right.

The church observes the Feast of St. Barnabas – apostle, and patron saint of Cyprus, of all places – on June 11th. Barnabas remains one of the most admirable and least troubled of the apostles, a man who is not afraid to speak the truth as he knows it, nor to put his money where his mouth is. He told the truth and gave people hope — and was neither arrogant about it nor ashamed.

Yet, as is the fate of many who speak the truth and spread hope, Barnabas met with his fair share of opposition and defiance. He took the blinded and converted Saul, whom we know as Paul, under his wing in the early days of that man’s recovery and faith. He went with Paul on his first journey, first to his home in Cyprus and then to Asia Minor. They spread the gospel in the towns and synagogues as best they could, finding some who listened with open ears, and others who did not, and cursed them. When that happened, they shook from their feet the dust of the road in the towns of their despisers, but you figure it had to hurt: we told them the truth, but they would not let it set them free. More, as they say, is the pity. The pattern would continue throughout those missionary journeys.

Barnabas brought along with them on that journey a man called John Mark, whom we typically honor as the writer of the Gospel of Mark. They and Paul had a falling out – Paul’s fault, though he might not have seen it that way – and parted ways. Mark and Barnabas headed back to Cyprus and Antioch. They continued their various ministries there, spreading the gospel as they knew it, and making it known even more by how they helped their neighbors and lived in peace.

We hear, and think much, about Paul’s once-at-a-flash conversion on the road to Damascus. We hear, and think much, about Peter’s hemming and hawing, denying and backsliding, then preach-it-in-their-faces style of faithfulness at the edge of your competence. We hear less, and thus think less, about Barnabas’s conversion and ministry, because it was less flashy and less wounded. He was a good man who lived an okay life, saw something much better than he’d ever imagined, and chose that with all that he had, never once looking back. Being good, he chose to remain so and help others do so. They say he was martyred for it, and I’m pretty sure that he was; such is the fate of those who are good and give people hope. But we choose to be good and give people hope nonetheless.

In short: Barnabas’s story is worth thinking about, and certainly worth a feast. Amen.

 

 A Statement of Faith, A Song of God’s Love (1 John 4:7-11)

Beloved, let us love one another, *
for love is of God.

Whoever does not love does not know God, *
for God is Love.

In this the love of God was revealed among us, *
that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us *
and sent his Son that sins might be forgiven.

Beloved, since God loved us so much, *
we ought also to love one another.

For if we love one another, God abides in us, *
and God’s love will be perfected in us.

 

The Collects

A Collect for St. Barnabas

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for the Poor and Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Collect for the Right Use of God’s Gifts

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Mission

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

 

Hymn: In Christ there is no East or West        John Osenham        Hymnal 1982 #529

1 In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north,
But one great family of love throughout the whole wide earth.

2 In him shall true hearts everywhere their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord close binding humankind.

3 Join hands, disciples in the faith, whate’er your race may be!
Who serve each other in Christ’s love are surely kin to me.

4 In Christ now meet both east and west, in him meet south and north,
All Christly souls are one in him throughout the whole wide earth.

Blessing and Dismissal

Go forth now in the power of the risen Lord, proclaiming the good news to all.
May the blessing of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, be with you to the cleansing of the world.

 

About this Service

The church observes the Feast of St. Barnabas – apostle, and patron saint of Cyprus, of all places – on June 11th. As the stories come down to us, Barnabas emerges as one of the most admirable and least troubled of the apostles, a man who is not afraid to speak the truth as he knows it, nor to put his money where his mouth is.

He is the first to sell what he owns and give it to the followers of Jesus so that they might use it to support those most in need. He, thus, bears witness to one of the fundamental insights of the early church: from each according to ability, to each according to needs.

Yet, as is the fate of many who speak the truth and spread hope, Barnabas met with his fair share of opposition and defiance. He took the blinded and converted Saul, whom we know as Paul, under his wing in the early days of that man’s recovery and faith. He went with Paul on his first journey, to his home in Cyprus and then to Asia Minor. They spread the gospel in the towns and synagogues as best they could, finding some who listened with open ears, and others who did not, and cursed them. The pattern would continue throughout those missionary journeys.

Barnabas brought along with them on that journey a man called John Mark, whom we typically honor as the writer of the Gospel of Mark. They and Paul had a falling out, however, and parted ways. Mark and Barnabas headed back to Cyprus and Antioch. They continued their various ministries there, spreading the gospel as they knew it, and making it known even more by how they helped their neighbors and lived in peace.

We celebrate the Feast of St. Barnabas this year with a Vespers service of prayer, word, and song. This leaflet is designed for you to use on your own, in addition to being a guide to worship online. Feel free to adapt it as best suits your and your family’s needs.

The readings for this service, and the prayers you see, come from The Book of Common Prayer and from Enriching Our Worship 1 and 2. You will find links to these free resources below.

 

Resources (available for free online)

Book of Common Prayer, www.bcponline.org

Enriching Our Worship 1, https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf

Enriching Our Worship 2,

https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-2/enrichingourworship2.pdf

These three resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online Bibles.

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington: www.edow.org

St. Mark’s, Fairland: www.stmarks-silverspring.org

 

A Prayer in Times of Sickness and Contagion

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health, source of all wisdom and peace: Comfort and relieve your servants who suffer from sickness or fear, give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, and let your grace be with all those who work to protect us from contagion and disease. May we be strengthened against any weakness, sickness, fear, and doubt, and place our confidence in your loving care through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.