A parishioner recently remarked that they were confused as to how exactly St. Barnabas is regarded in the overall context of his life and ministry. As we approach St. Barnabas Day on June 13, I thought it would be an ideal time to respond to that question. In order to satisfy my own immediate sense of curiosity, I took the route of least resistance by typing, “Who was St. Barnabas” into the Google search engine. For a saint who was martyred in 60 AD, it turns out that he is awfully popular with 7,580,000 results generated in 1.01 seconds. In an effort not to add further confusion, I have distilled the results into three bullet points:
- Originally called Joseph, he was given the name Barnabas (Hebrew, for son of encouragement) by the disciples of Jesus because he was a generous and encouraging soul. According to the Book of Acts, “he sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles” (Acts 4:37).
- He was an inspirational figure to many, especially St. Paul whom he mentored, sponsored and traveled with for years. They preached the Gospel in tandem to Jews and Gentiles; and Book of Acts notes that it was during their time in Antioch that the term “Christians” was first coined for the followers of Christ (Acts 11:26). Like so many famous duos, they got to the point where they no longer felt in simpatico; and so, very sensibly, they parted ways. St. Barnabas headed to Cyprus, the place of his birth, while Paul headed off to Syria.
- While preaching the Gospel in Cyprus, he was martyred on Wednesday, June 11th, 60 AD. Given that he is our patron saint, we celebrate his life and witness to the Christian Faith on the closest Sunday to the anniversary of his death. This year we do so on Sunday, June 13th.
On St. Barnabas Day this year, the Rev. Dr. Charlie Colwell and Mrs. Judy Colwell will join us for worship for the first time since they left on the occasion of our patronal festival in June 2008. I am sure their presence will be a source of great encouragement to all of us after the trials and tribulations of this past year and a half. So, do plan to attend that day, as we give thanks for the goodly heritage we enjoy and the hope that is set before us as members of St. Barnabas Church.
Onward in the Spirit,
p.s. In the spirit of our patron saint, please bring a food donation for the Tarrytown Food Pantry as their stocks are running very low at this time. Scroll down for our Food Drive details.
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.