Barnabas and Saul Commissioned
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
The Apostles Preach in Cyprus
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen—the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
This is a challenging time for our nation and the world, a time of massive upheaval in what normal life looks like for us all. Priorities have changed immensely whether that be in the home, with family, in work or in being or knowing one or may of the amazing essential workers. Our social interaction has changed overnight to the majority of the population being at home for the foreseeable future, interacting only by phone or online and to only leave home for necessary shopping or exercise. Keeping ourselves up to date with the news or how these changes to life are ‘flattening the curve’ and the numbers of lives lost becoming more incomprehensible each day.
The psalmist in Psalm 40 describes a desolate pit and miry bog that could easily be likened to our current situation, a time of separation from personal interaction with friends and family, a trauma and grief that we are currently experiencing as a nation whilst life and sometimes work ploughs on. However, as the psalmist recognizes, there’s a step change in setting our feet upon the rock and making our steps secure in our trust in God and the amazing humanity he created, and this will put a new song in our mouths. A song that in my mind that has been expressed, through the medium of clapping and the banging pots and pans, unifying our country in its appreciation for health care and other key workers by applauding them. This outpouring of love and appreciation for people risking their lives on a daily basis to look after those in need in this difficult time gave me the same feeling as the commentator Murray Walker when he said “I’ll have to stop because I’ve got a lump in my throat” and is a new song on the hearts of the population who’s priorities have changed almost overnight.
To reflect on the Singing the Faith song for today “Walk in the Light“, the good that God is bringing out of this unprecedented situation in my mind is one of unity, even if the journey to faith for many some may be slow, the changing of priorities and focus, we as Christians will pray, is one that we trust God will work in people’s hearts to revel his love shown to use through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
Blessings as we pray that we might continue to walk in the light and be of assistance to those in more need than us.
- Where can we see God working in the world around us? In the big and in the small?
- How can we be a blessing to our neighbours in times of trouble but also in the ordinary?