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26 December 2005
  + Stephen, Martyr +
26 December, New Testament

Saint StephenThe days following Christmas are sometimes called the "Witness Days." The Greek word for "witness" is "martyr," and these days remind us that this sinful world hates the Gospel message of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Saint Stephen's Day remembers the first recorded martyr of the Church. Stephen knew the gift of Christmas: His Lord came in human flesh to bring forgiveness and as Jesus forgave His killers, so Stephen forgave those whose stones smashed away his life. The account of his calling, witness, and death is in Acts 6:1-8:2.

In art, he is often represented by the stones which took his life and by the palm branch, an ancient symbol of triumph.

Lection
Psalm 31
Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15
Acts 6:1-8:2
Matthew 23:34-39

Collect
Heavenly Father, grant us grace that in our sufferings for the sake of Christ we may follow the example of Saint Stephen, that we may look to Him who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
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