Friday, December 26, 2014

Collects for St Stephen's Day

Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Grant us, we beseech thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we honour: that we may learn to love our enemies; since we celebrate the birthday of him who knew how to pray even for his persecutors to our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

Here, as the fires of Christmas Day still burn strong and the joy of the revels are still with us, the first challenge to our happiness arises. Our God is opposed. The Lord is opposed. His servants are opposed. The cause of our joy meets opposition in life, an opposition that threatens to quench that happiness, that joy, that sheer delight of knowing God.

We hear it daily: "there is no God!" "the Church is corrupt!" "Religion is irrelevant!" We find ourselves in a dark world,certainly, but the birth of Jesus challenges us not to succumb to the easy indifference and slothful antagonism of the World to all things that stand beyond its control. That challenge is simply to let go to that which the World tries to convince us to hold onto. St Stephen, the Protomartyr looks up and sees the enthroned God Whose birth we celebrate lustily. The World screams at him to renounce his antimaterialistic blasphemy; he refuses and as the first stone strikes, he lets go of the last thing the World would want him to carry for ever, the temptation to hate. On this, the second day of Christmas, we find the means to our salvation: love rather than hate, forgive rather than resent.

Herein is life, a life which comes from letting go and reaching out for Him Who is beyond it all.

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