Feast of St. Stephen

Today is the day after Christmas, but did you also know the Feast of St. Stephen is celebrated today as well?  And who is St. Stephen you ask?  From Cyberbrethren:

Today we remember and thank God for the first person to give his life for the sake of Christ, St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr. One of the first deacons and the first Christian martyr; feast on 26 December. In the Acts of the Apostles the name of St. Stephen occurs for the first time on the occasion of the appointment of the first deacons (Acts 6:5). Dissatisfaction concerning the distribution of alms from the community’s fund having arisen in the Church, seven men were selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members. Of these seven, Stephen, is the first mentioned and the best known.

Today’s devotion over at Higher Things:Reflections points out this regarding St. Stephen.

He was full of grace and power and performed wonders and signs amongst the people. He even went straight from his ordination to the synagogue to preach the Gospel to the religious leaders of his day.

They argued with Stephen, but they couldn’t stand up against the wisdom and Spirit in his preaching. They blasphemed him. They stirred up the people against him and seized him. They brought him before the council. False witnesses were convinced to tell lies about him. Yet, through all this, as they stared him down, looking intently upon him, Pastor Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel.

What happened to Jesus happened to his servant, Stephen. He did wonders. He proclaimed the kingdom of God to sinners. He preached that God had reconciled the world to Himself in the person of His Son.

And when they heard his sermon, their hearts were enraged and they gnashed their teeth at him. Stephen, looking up into heaven, saw the glory of God–He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God!

Head over to Cyberbrethren for more insight after reading Acts 6:1 – 8:2, the first hand source on St. Stephen’s life and death.  And remember this as you go about your activities each day:

But life under the Cross of Jesus is full of suffering! For even when the stones fall, Jesus is there to save us. He simply must save us. He already has.

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