Friday, 10 July 2020

St Barnabas, the son of consolation

READERS of the Henley Standard may find at the end of their road a church called St Barnabas.

You may be a member of that congregation or perhaps you just pass the church on your way to work or to shop every day.

You may like to know that the name Barnabas means “son of consolation” and the word “consolation” may mean an activity with which you can identify with family or friends.

St Barnabas was an early Christian disciple but he was not one of the 12
disciples.

His history tells us that he introduced St Paul to the other apostles and that Barnabas and Paul were sent to Antioch and undertook the first missionary journey, which began in Cyprus.

The details of the life of St Barnabas reveal that at the Council of Jerusalem he supported the Gentile Christians in their conflict with the elders.

His life details also tell us that Paul and Barnabas disagreed over their ministry and were separated with Barnabas returning to Cyprus where he evangelised extensively.

However, Paul talks about Barnabas in his epistles of Galatians and Corinthians and this may suggest that there was a much wider apostolate going on. Various suggestions indicate that St Barnabas may have been Milan’s first bishop.

In England there are some 13 ancient church dedications but a number of modern dedications of parish churches named St Barnabas.

I myself was the priest-in-charge of a church named St Barnabas in Rotherham in the diocese of Sheffield, which served as a community centre during the week and estates church on Sundays.

The true title to fame of St Barnabas was that he took a very prominent part in the development of the infant Christian church amd istory has accorded June 12 as his “Feast day”.

This is when we give thanks for his early ministry and for the many churches which bear his name in our modern world and their modern witness, ministry and evangelism in our difficult world where religion/Christianity is viewed by some with suspicion and to be of very little value in our sadly secular society.

But the faith to which St Barnabas was committed is here to stay.

Rev Canon Colin Hill

Retired priest

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