Day Two — Tuesday 26 December 2017 — Stephen, Decaon and First Martyr

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia

Readings

2 Chronicles 24.17-22 | Psalm 31.1-8 | Acts 6.8-10 and 7.54-60 | Matthew 10.17-22

Stoning

Domenico Piola (Italy, 1627–1703) Stoning of St Stephen (1650s) State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Reflection

Filled with grace, Stephen had been doing wonderful things among the people. Though these wonders are not named, it seems they must have had some connection with his humble service—that table service the first deacons were appointed for so the Twelve could preach the word of God. Some people were upset by these wonders and signs and engaged Stephen in debate. He did not back down, but witnessed powerfully to Jesus as the fulfilment of Moses, the Law, and the Temple.

Those who had been upset by his wonder-working were infuriated by this teaching which did not fit into their understanding and expectations.

Stephen—totally given to a life of humble, loving service—manifested in word and deed the wonders of divine love incarnate in Jesus. His challenging message and his embodiment of it in his person were rejected. That rejection, however, did not quench the love of God, the Spirit of Christ within him. He spoke the truth courageously, even in the face of death, never departing from the way of love—love for Christ, and inclusive and forgiving love of his opponents. His last words were like those of Jesus on the cross, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, " and "Lord, do not hold this sin against them
— Katherine L. Howard, Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2006-07 Year C (New York: Church Publishing, 2006).


"Ortus Summi: Conductus for the feast of St. Stephen" [13th century music from a manuscript in the Bibleoteca Laurenziana, Florence], in Thirty-five Conductus for Two and Three Voices, edited by Janet Knapp (Yale University, 1965); played by Ernst Stolz, recorder and tenor vielle (fiddle).

Prayer

You are our eternal salvation,
The unfailing light of the world.
Light everlasting,
You are truly our redemption.
Grieving that the human race was perishing
through the tempter's power,
without leaving the heights
You came to the depths in your loving kindness.
Readily taking our humanity by Your gracious will,
You saved all earthly creatures, long since lost,
Restoring joy to the world.
Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ,
and so possess us as Your shining dwellings.
By Your first coming, make us righteous;
At your second coming, set us free:
So that, when the world is filled with light
and you judge all things,
We may be clad in spotless robes
and follow in Your steps, O King,
Into the heavenly hall.
—Unknown Author, 10th century

May the Lord, who has called out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.