Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas 2011-2012

[Note: I am offering a brief devotion for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I hope you find them meaningful.]

The Church has traditionally on the day following Christmas Day remembered St. Stephen, the first Christian to give his life for his faith of whom we know. As Stephen was being stoned to death for his faithful Christian witness, he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

It is far too easy for American Christians to forget that there are still martyrs, that there are still people who give up their lives for their faith in Christ. Lest we forget, I remind us that on this Christmas Day a series of bombings of churches in Nigeria cost over thirty believers their lives.

Perhaps that reminder will also serve as a caution not to regard as “persecution” the small slights and rejections that we might on very rare occasions encounter because of our Christian witness.

Still, it is important to remember that the base meaning of the word “martyr” is “witness” and it is worthwhile to ponder how—and if—we bear true witness to Jesus Christ in the ways that we live, and especially in the ways that we respond to those who would and do hurt us.

Are we giving our lives up?

Are we giving our lives away?

Are we turning the other cheek?

Are we praying “Father, forgive them” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them?”

May God show us how to live as true martyrs on this Second Day of Christmas!

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