Today the Bible readings are related to the celebration of Stephen, the first Deacon and Matryr
O sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Glory to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as in the beginning, so now, and for ever. Amen.
A poem: A Song of Redemption
Christ is the image of the invisible God:
the first-born of all creation.
For in him all things were created:
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
All things were created through him and for him:
he is before all things
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the Church:
he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead.
For it pleased God that in him
all fullness should dwell:
and through him all things be reconciled to himself.
The opening prayer
By night and by day we worship the Lord; let us pray with one heart and mind.
We remember God’s presence and pause in silence.
Father of lights, receive the prayer and praise we offer you as our daily sacrifice; make us a light for all the world, delivered by your goodness from all the works of darkness; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
2 Chronicles 24.17-22
Now after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king listened to them. They abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and served the sacred poles and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD; they testified against them, but they would not listen.
Then the spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada; he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus says God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has also forsaken you.’ But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD. King Joash did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. As he was dying, he said, ‘May the LORD see and avenge!’
To you, Lord, have I come for shelter:
let me never be put to shame.
O deliver me in your righteousness:
incline your ear to me and be swift to save me.
Be for me a rock of refuge, a fortress to defend me:
for you are my high rock and my stronghold.
Lead me and guide me for your name’s sake:
bring me out of the net that they have secretly laid for me,
for you are my strength.
Into your hands I commit my spirit:
you will redeem me, O Lord God of truth.
I hate those that clutch vain idols:
but my trust is in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your loving-kindness:
for you have looked on my distress
and known me in adversity.
You have not given me over to the power of the enemy:
you have set my feet where I may walk at liberty.
Acts 6.8-10, 7.54-60
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.
Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.
This week’s prayer:
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory,
for the example of Stephen, the first martyr,
who prayed for his persecutors,
and looked to him who was crucified,
your Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
We thank God for what we have and pray for what we need.
Today we pray for ourselves, that God would give us compassionate hearts for those who suffer poverty. In our local church, we ask God to care for those who are ill or housebound. In our world, we pray for all who serve in the courts and the justice system. We remember before God those who have asked for our prayers, or who are in need of them.
A prayer for the day
We consecrate this day to your service, O Lord; may all our thoughts, words, and actions be well-pleasing to you and serve the good of our brothers and sisters; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The Lord be with us
now and forever.
Let us praise the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
May the God of peace equip us with everything good so that we may do his will; and may he work in us that which is pleasing in his sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
see Hebrews 13.20-21