The Spirit and the church
& The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
When a name gets changed, there is always a good reason. When the Windscale nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbriachanged its name to Sellafield, there must have been people who hoped that any negative associations it had would change with it. In March 2001 the Royal Mail changed its name to Consignia at a cost of £½ million. Fifteen months and £1 billion of losses later, they changed it back. In June 2002 the accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Cooper briefly changed its name to Monday - a failure that rather overestimated people’s enthusiasm for the start of a working week.
It must be remarkable to have your name changed to ‘the encourager’. And even more so to deserve it so much that people forget you were originally called something else. Barnabas was later to strengthen the work of churches, to build bridges between old enemies, and to train promising young people. But he first earned his name through an act of generosity on behalf of people in need.
In 1964 a twenty-year-old organisation called the Department for the Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service changed its name to Christian Aid. Snappy, huh!
It is interesting to reflect on how its work has subsequently echoed that of Barnabas.
Try to identify the names of someone who has encouraged you and someone who needs encouragement. Make a couple of phone calls this evening for some idle chatter!
' Holy Spirit, the encourager:
give me grace to follow in the steps of Barnabas,
who followed in the steps of Jesus,
who gave everything on behalf of a needy world. Amen.
Why not use this time to try some bible reading?
There are lots of brilliant schemes to help you.
Here are some of them:
Reflections for Daily Prayer which follows the Anglican lectionary. So you can do it alone, or alongside Morning Prayer (see the CofE Website for that!) You have to buy this
The scripture Union has a free scheme called WordLive which comes as a daily email.
Peter Graystone has written a five-week introduction to the Christian faith which gets people begining to read the Bible. It is called Now a Christian. You get a daily email for five weeks, and half way through each week you can go to a message board and find out what other people are doing the course at the same time are thinking. If you fancy having a go at this you can sign up!
For many Christians, Lent traditionally involves the re-telling of the story of Jesus, especially his final days and moments. Sometimes this is in hymns, prayers or processions, or with great music such as Handel’s Messiah or one of Bach’s Passions, or it is the journeying through Holy Week as a church community. With none of that possible this year and enjoy these things together, we are all exploring ways to think and pray through the story of Jesus. This course, based on Tom Wright’s book Simply Jesus: Small Group Edition, is designed to help us do just that.
We are making the Small Group Edition available for individuals and for congregations. Individuals will be greatly encouraged through the course, but there are also questions that would allow people to dialogue with one another about what they are learning. During these days, this kind of learning can be done virtually via emails with one another or through video chats. Perhaps you and others would gather together in a video chat format to connect and learn together.
You may enroll in this course for no charge from
Tuesday, 24 March, 17:00 until Friday, 27 March 17:00.
The window to enroll in this course is 72 hours. We cannot extend the time so please make sure you enroll while you are still able to. We are so grateful that this gift has been given for free (normally charged at £149.99!) by
Prof. N.T. Wright and N.T. Wright Online.
The link for enrolling is : Simply Jesus - TKC gift
The second resource, is five simple ideas for families to weave prayer and bible readings throughout these days of home schooling. These can be shared by clergy with anyone they think might benefit.