Hello everyone! This morning I gave 2 people a lift to chapel; one being May who usually comes if she well enough and Molly who just needed a lift to church this morning. It was a thoughtful and well presented service led by Rev. Christine Gillespie with well chosen hymns. I was pleased that she came down to talk to the children, as that makes the children’s address so much more accessible for the children. She asked the children and us for names of Bible people, Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus, Paul and Mary and Joseph were amongst names suggested. She then went on to say how children’s stories usually had a perfect hero or heroine who was always vindicated in the end and then everyone lived happily ever after. In the Bible we learnt about the people like Paul who persecuted Christians with a zeal that only ended when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Peter was an impulsive character who ended up denying he knew Jesus, but Jesus did not give up on him and he became the leader of the church. Christine showed how God used people who made mistakes but gave them a second chance, in fact he does not stop loving us if we do things wrong and he forgives us and wants us to forgive ourselves.
The hymn chosen for us to sing was about Moses no 450 in Methodist Hymns and Psalms and this verse spoke to me about how God is with us in our faith journey:
‘No matter what you may do,’
The Lord said,
‘I shall be faithful and true,’
The Lord said.
My love will strengthen you as you go along,
For you’re my travelling, wandering race,
You’re the People of God.’
So every day,
We’re on our way,
For we’re a travelling, wandering race,
We’re the people of God.
I find it helpful to know that the Lord keeps company with us on our faith journeys, especially as he does not give up on us, even if we make mistakes.
In the sermon Christine talked about whether we had ever had nicknames, which had stuck or been painful for us. I used to hate my middle name as a child as it was an unusual old fashioned name, Gertrude, which apparently sounded lovely when spoken by my Grandpa to his wife, so my mother told me! I was called ‘Dirty Gerty!’ at school so that did not help me get attached to my second name! My brother Selwyn used to sometimes call me ‘Nellgen Tootiteka’ although I am not sure how it should be spelt, which I always found affectionate and lovely, but did not become a nickname which stuck. A family friend, Alice, who was at university with my mother, used to call me ‘Scallywag’ and my younger sister Fran ‘Poppet’, both I felt were endearing names.
Anyway I have got a bit sidetracked; back to Christine’s sermon. She talked about a person in the Bible who was known not by his real name, Joseph, but by a nickname, namely Barnabus, which meant that he was an encourager, and the name stuck. He was the disciple who introduced Saul to the apostles after he had become a Christian and thought he would be the right person to bring to Antioch to lead the church there. Later they went together on missionary journeys, he and Paul. Barnabus was happy to take second place when Paul became a more prominent leader in the church. Barnabus was not perfect either as he and Paul had a strong disagreement about John Mark. On the previous missionary journey John Mark had left and gone home early in the journey, so he had let them down. Paul was not prepared to let him come with them on another missionary journey but Barnabus, the encourager, was prepared to give him a second chance. So Barnabus split from Paul and set off with John Mark, whereas Paul set off with Silas. The good news is that God still used the two groups to spread the faith, although they had had a quarrel and later we find that Paul found John Mark a reliable companion on his missionary journeys. Barnabus’ faith in John Mark was vindicated, but he did not share Paul’s limelight and worked as an encourager in the background of the church’s mission, which was a vital part of the mission. We all have an important role we can have in the church and with all we meet if we like Barnabus can be encouragers of others. Let us all be encouragers and in that way strengthen all we come in contact with. This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.