December 26, 2021

The Feast of Stephen


But you, O Lord my Lord, act on my behalf for your Name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.

Psalm 109:21
According to the traditional liturgical calendar, the day after Christmas is St. Stephen's Day, or (according to the old Christmas carol) the Feast of Stephen. Though the story isn't particularly Christmassy, this is the day when we remember the one who's considered by many to be Christianity's first martyr. Stephen was a deacon of the church who spoke openly about Jesus. This so angered some, that they put him on trial and condemned him to death. He faced his sentence courageously, and following the example of his Lord, he prayed for forgiveness for his persecutors.

How often, when we perceive ourselves to be the injured party in some relatively minor dust-up, do we lash out in anger? How often do we wish for vengeance against somebody who we think has insulted us? Perhaps we would do well to think of the examples of Jesus and Stephen, both of whom reacted to their pain with faithfulness and forgiveness.

Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
 Acts 7:59-60
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand.
 Book of Common Prayer
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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