Today, December 26th, much of the Christian world commemorates St. Stephen’s martyrdom as told in the Book of Acts.  As such, the common lectionary passages are in this vein…

2 Chronicles 24:17-22   Psalm 17   Matthew 23:24-39   Acts 6:8-7:60

The theme of each of these passages is that of a rejected message from God.  The reasons for this rejection are varied and nuanced, as are most decisions human beings make, they include…

  1. The message delivered is viewed by the addressed as being untrue.
  2. The message delivered is viewed by those addressed as being true.
  3. The messenger is viewed as a fraud making whatever message delivered to be untrue.
  4. The messenger is viewed as truth giver making whatever message delivered to be true.

It seems not to matter the efficacy of either the message or the messenger.  What matters most is the condition of the heart of those addressed.  Do they have an appreciation for what is true above all other else?

In the Acts passage (7:1-53), Stephen addresses a persistent problem of Israel’s rejection of God’s message via His servants.  It is similar to a message delivered by Ezekiel (Ezek. 20:5-44) in that it details to Israel the results of it’s disobedience.

Stephen’s demise is something that Jesus prepared His followers as a possibility (Luke 9:23-24, 21:12-19) to endure.  And so on this day, we recall St. Stephen’s commitment.

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