“Summertime ... and the living is easy...”

Last night, I was preparing for a service later this week and one ofsongs requested is ‘Summertime’, by George Gershwin. Originallyfrom the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), it has been performed by thousands of musicians. That's not bad for a piece of music that was part of an initially slow box-office run. The song is sung more than once in the opera, first as a lullaby, by Clara and then later it is sung by Bess.

As we head into the summer months, I am not sure how much‘easy living’ there will be! July’s diary is looking busy with lots ofexciting events like the school and church summer fairs to support and other events at our churches to attend – lots of details in this magazine! And of course, August is our traditional wedding month with most Saturdays full, sometimes even two on the dame day!

In the middle of July we say goodbye to the year 6 children from our primary schools about to start new adventures in September. Within the wider church, the end of June / early July is the timewhen the ‘new’ curates are ordained as deacons and those coming to the end of their first year are priested. I can’t believe it hasbeen seven years since I was that new curate – in some ways it seems a lifetime ago, in others only yesterday.

As I sit thinking about the summer months ahead, I was reminded about the importance of encouraging one another. That in turn reminded me of the biblical image of Barnabas (known as son ofencouragement) ‘who sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles’ (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was theone who was willing to vouch for both Paul and Mark and givethem both a second chance. Despite Paul’s apprehension of Mark, it appeared with the right encouragement and level of trust fromBarnabas, Mark became a ‘valuable assistant’ (2 Tim 4:11).

Reflecting on our own lives, I wonder who was your Barnabas? That person, or persons, who gave freely of themselves in order to help you grow into the person you are now? Encouraging oneanother is an essential part of discipleship. It’s allowing someone the space to ‘have a go’ but also providing them with an element6

of support in order to spring them back if things start to go out of control.

I am thankful for those who have been there for me, my ownpersonal ‘Barnabas’ people, who encouraged me. They gave methe space to try new things. Some went well, others not so! However, it is the support and care in those times that mean you learn so much about yourself and how or what you would change next time. Because like learning to ride a bike, it is the getting back up and getting back on that eventually means you can do it!

Church should not be about the few doing the many jobs, but themany doing a few jobs. You don’t always need to have the full skillset to take on a role, because those currently doing the role can show, encourage and step back. Some of us may need to havecourage to ‘have a go’ and others of us may need to be theencourager, giving space to ‘have a go’! This might just allow some ‘easier living’ for us all and not just in this summertime. Is Godcalling you to be an encourager or to have courage? We all need to listen and act on what He is saying.

Kim Lafferty