I have been looking at the work of the Early Church in the Acts of the Apostles in previous weekday blogs. It has given us the opportunity to reflect on and spend time with key people in the live of that fledgling church, to learn from their calling and apply it to our own right here and now. Today we will look at Acts Chapter 13 and very particularly the sending out of Paul and Barnabas.
It may seem a little odd to talk about sending out when we are staying in but even in our times, and even in lockdown God is still working in his church and the Holy Sprit still calling people to do his work even if that sending out may be metaphorical right now.
The start of the first missionary journey of the church is set out in our chapter today and it involves Paul and Barnabas, but as my title suggests I would like to focus on the choosing and sending of these two missionaries rather than their journey in this blog.
The selection of Paul and Barnabas is the clear work of the Holy Spirit within the church as well as within them individually. The church are worshipping and fasting and the prophets or perhaps even the whole church are instructed that they are to send these men to do “the work for which I have called them”
The spread of the Gospel globally begins here, this where the church begins to become a worldwide church, and it is because God called Paul and Barnabas, because the church through the Holy Sprit heard that call and then because the church commissioned the two and sent them off.
AS a church we need to seek out the giftedness of each other, I often wonder as a Vicar who the Holy Spirit is prompting, who God is calling – not necessarily for to be a missionary or a Vicar but mostly to continue the work of the church, the spread of the gospel, the care of the community in this place. What I do know is that we are all called, to “the work for which he has called us” and when times change we see new gifts coming out in people as we have in the last few weeks of lockdown. People caring, encouraging, praying, pastoring one another, assisting with those basic needs of others.
As we worship together albeit virtually who is God calling and what is “the work for which he has called you?”
I leave you with another of Charles Wesley’s hymns written in 1749 that speaks of our vocation to follow Christ in “the work for which he has called us”
Forth in your name, O Lord, I go,
my daily labour to pursue,
you only, Lord, resolved to know
in all I think or speak or do.
The task your wisdom has assigned
here let me cheerfully fulfil;
in all my work your presence find,
and prove your good and perfect will.
You may I set at my right hand,
whose eyes my inmost secrets view,
and labour on at your command
and offer all my work to you.
Help me to bear your easy yoke,
in ev’ry moment watch and pray,
and still to things eternal look
and hasten to that glorious day.
Then with delight may I employ
all that your bounteous grace has given,
and run my earthly course with joy,
and closely walk with you in heaven.
Your friend and Vicar