The Feast of Saint Stephen, martyr
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Come, let us worship the new-born King; today he has crowned Saint Stephen.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD: the LORD is God and has given us light.
Reading: Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59 (NLT)
Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Reading: Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17 (NLT)
You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger. Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone.
I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.
You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place.
Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me. Don’t let me be disgraced, O Lord, for I call out to you for help. Let the wicked be disgraced; let them lie silent in the grave.
Reading: Matthew 10:17-22 (NLT)
But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”
Thank you, Lord God, for Saint Stephen, whose life on earth was lived in the service of Christ, and who came at his death to witness to Christ with his blood.
+ For all who have found the freedom to lay down their lives for your sake: we give you thanks.
+ For all whose desire for you has brought them through death with a joyful heart: we give you thanks.
+ For all who have followed, through suffering, the way of the cross: we give you thanks.
+ For all who have undergone martyrdom for the gospel: we give you thanks.
Tell me, Lord Jesus, the sacrifice you desire from me, whether of my time, my gifts or my money; whether of reputation or security, or even of life itself. Give me the courage and strength to deny myself, take up my cross and follow You; and to You be all the glory. Amen.
“Good King Wenceslas” – Traditional Choir
The Lord bless us, and keep us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holly Spirit. Amen!
Categories: Life in Christ