An Advent Journey: Reflections for Weary Travelers — Day Nine

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Acts 11:19-26, TLB

Meanwhile, the believers who fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, scattering the Good News, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene also gave their message about the Lord Jesus to some Greeks. And the Lord honored this effort so that large numbers of these Gentiles became believers.

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to help the new converts. When he arrived and saw the wonderful things God was doing, he was filled with excitement and joy, and encouraged the believers to stay close to the Lord, whatever the cost. Barnabas was a kindly person, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. As a result, large numbers of people were added to the Lord.

Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to hunt for Paul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch; and both of them stayed there for a full year teaching the many new converts. (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called “Christians.”)

Those kids up there in the picture? They’re the ones we’ve been ‘sent to help.’ We teach Confirmation every Sunday morning to a room full of 18 middle school students. It can get pretty chaotic in that space, I’ll tell you. But you know what? These kids fill me with hope. They are kind, friendly, committed to learning more about Jesus, sincerely wanting to grow in their faith. And those kids — and you and me and everyone we know who follows after Jesus today — are direct descendants of those Greeks that the early church reached out to in Antioch. There are others who trace their roots to Thomas, who went to India, the tradition tells us. And maybe others descended from that Ethiopian eunuch who went back to continental Africa a newly baptized believer in Jesus. That yeast-like spreading of the Good News has brought us to today, where the church in the 2/3 world is larger than the church in the northern hemisphere! AMAZING. And we can say a hearty thank-you to Barnabas, among so many others, who carried the gospel of Jesus with them and then passed it along to others. May we do the same!

Lord help me to be a Barnabas, a person who overflows with your good news. Help me to be brave and faithful and open to the promptings of your Holy Spirit. Build your church through us, Lord, even as you began it through those early disciples. Thank you, thank you.

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Comments

  1. What a sweet group of kids! Yes, may we not be shy about spreading the Good News wherever we go.
    Blessings, Diana!

    • They are a very sweet group! We have our last session before a 3-week long break at the end of the year and I’m afraid attendance may be way down because of these dreadful fires. Pray for us — for protection, for a lessening of the severe winds and for RAIN somewhere soon. What a terrible time it has been. Lord, have mercy.

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