Wednesday 26 December 2018

Bible Book:

They covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. (v 57)

Acts 7:51-60 Wednesday 26 December 2018

Psalm: Psalm 13


You might think that the compilers of our lectionary have quickly forgotten that we are in the season of goodwill! Not so, 26 December is of the Feast of Stephen, when the Church remembers Stephen as the first Christian martyr.

Martyr means ‘witness’ or ‘someone who gives evidence’, although it is also used for someone who dies for their faith. Stephen, of course, does all three. His faith gives him the strength to speak out and give evidence against the people of his day. It doesn’t go down too well; his hearers become enraged and grind their teeth. It might seem like a sensible time for Stephen to withdraw, to ‘wind his neck in’. However, God has given him faith and a strength to carry on – to speak the truth.

How? We read that in his hour of need God is there for him – God gives Stephen a vision (a vision that echoes the baptism of Jesus). Stephen, in a different way to the shepherds on the hillside, witnesses the glory of God.

This is a difficult reading. Stephen is a prophet and makes people feel uncomfortable. Nobody likes to see a glimpse of themselves and realise or, worse, be told that they are not living the way they should. Christmas and the arrival of Jesus holds up a similar mirror up to each one of our lives and demands we look at the reflection.

We cannot celebrate Christmas without ensuring that we understand the life-changing message of Jesus, and any such encounter usually demands change. At the same time, the story reminds us that God will be with us at every point of our lives, however difficult those moments might be.


To Ponder:

  • Who are the prophets of today that remind us that all is not well in the world, in the church, in our lives?
  • How do you react? To shoot the messenger or dismiss them?
  • What life changes might Jesus’ birth demand of you in the coming days and months?
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