Friday, December 26, 2008

Saint Stephen's Day

It's not a very widely celebrated holiday here in the USA, probably because Christmas is so huge in our culture. After all, we're tearing around like mad even before Thanksgiving, buying presents and swarming malls, and we do that for about a month. So perhaps, the day after Christmas, we're all just plain tired out. We want a break... we've been running non-stop since Halloween, for crying out loud!

But, whether or not it's widely celebrated, today, December 26, 2008, is St. Stephen's Day. When I tried to research this holiday, I found out that it's widely European, and traditions vary all over. Ireland has a long rhyme, the Welsh used to bleed animals (and apparently people do... thankfully they stopped that a good while back,) and so on.

But today is, supposedly, the day that the first martyr was stoned. Stephen is one of those people whom I would love to meet in heaven. He was arrested for speaking "blasphemous words against Moses and God" (Acts 6:11.) He then, after his arrest, knew full well that these authorities had the power to get him killed, yet he proclaimed the truth anyway. He went on a great length about Moses and Joseph and the Israelites. He calls these Jewish authorities "stiff-necked people" (Acts 7:51.) He tells them that they have killed the Righteous One, who is Jesus. For this, he is taken out of the city and beaten to death with rocks.
Now, here's the even more amazing bit... he cries out these words to the Messiah: "Lord Jesus, receive my sprit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:59, 60) Sound familiar? It echoes the cry on Calvary: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"(Luke 23:46)

The even greater thing is that this type, this Christ, was the one who gave Stephen the strength to be killed for the sake of his Lord. Stephen looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He could die without a terror because he knew that Jesus had died before him, and that this Messiah had taken the punishment for his sins. He would not burn eternally, he would not be subject to the wrath of God. (If you want more on Stephen, go ahead and read Acts 6-7. I do not ahve room here to put in everything.)

So, Happy Saint Stephen's Day! Have fun cleaning up wrapping paper, eating even more food that you ate yestreday, and messing with your presents. Remember also the martyrs, and the reason that they can still die without a worry, even today. Pray for them, too. People are still persecuted in the 21st century.
God bless!

5 comments:

one way up cast said...

huh....I had no idea :)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas yesterday!

Jenna said...

nice post!
i just found out recently - well, maybe an hour ago - that january 6th is called the Epiphany. its becuz that when the Magi supposdeley came and gave their gifts to baby Jesus.

Elizabeth K. said...

Well, the 12 days of Christmas start on the 25th, not the 13th. So, that'd mean that December 25 - January 5th, I'd think. In that case, it'd sort of make sense for the 5th to be the Epiphany, but not so much the 6th. I dunno.... I'm tired. :-)

Dr. R physco said...

wow. I never heard of that day! well thanks for alertin me liz!

Elizabeth K. said...

For the record: My name is ELIZABETH.