Last week, in this column, I shared a miracle that gets left out of the lectionary. The Revised Common Lectionary gives us the sermon that follows it, but not the miracle. This coming Sunday, ironically, the opposite is true - we get the miracle but not the sermon.
Stephen is among the first group of seven deacons chosen by the early church. The deacons are to see to it that all receive a fair share of the resources that the church has to offer, especially for the widows. But Stephen doesn't stick to just waiting on tables. He ends up preaching too, in some of the synagogues. And, as you might guess, he is accused of blasphemy. Under interrogation by the high priest, Stephen preaches one of the greatest sermons in Christian history.
The crowd is so infuriated by Stephen's sermon and its implication that they have rejected God and God's messenger that they stone Stephen to death. Miraculously, like Jesus, Stephen's last words are for the forgiveness of his killers. Sometimes we only hear about the stones, but the sermon must have its day too. Even today sometimes we hear only the stories of Christians' death for the sake of the good news, but if we listen carefully, we can hear the sermon too.
Art from:Unknown. Stoning of Saint Stephen from Sant Joan de Boí, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55858 [retrieved May 9, 2017].
Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stoning_of_Saint_Stephen_from_Sant_Joan_de_Bo%C3%AD_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.