We are so accustomed to Stephen’s serene posture in death that it’s easy to forget the fiery speech that got him martyred. Stephen shocked the Sanhedrin by identifying his hearers as enemies of God, stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart. Why? They had rejected Jesus. The speech was a blistering attack...
Almighty God, when we see the persecution of Christians and the silencing of prophets, give us ears to hear truth, boldness to speak, and eyes lifted up to our resurrected Lord. Amen.
All of the readings this week include people facing hostility or suffering. In Acts, Stephen is stoned to death for his belief in Christ. In John’s Gospel, the disciples in the upper room are anticipating Jesus’ death. Peter tells the scattered believers not to fear despite the hatred in society, and the psalmist cries to the Lord for rescue from his persecutors. Another aspect the readings have in common is the solution to their suffering. For the psalmist, this means recalling God’s character. In the New Testament passages, it’s remembering Christ. God is a rock and fortress in Psalm 31, and Christ is the cornerstone, our firm foundation, in 1 Peter. Focusing on Christ shapes our response to suffering.
Read Acts 7:55-60. Recall a time when you have seen God’s power in action. How was God’s power different than you might have expected?Read Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. Contemplate your answers to the author’s questions. How do the psalmist’s hope and experiences reflect your own?Read 1 Peter 2:2-10. When have you experienced God as a loving Mother? When has Christ been your cornerstone?Read John 14:1-14. How do you experience God’s presence through the life or actions of others?
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