300 Days for 300 Years: A Commemorative Devotional of the Presbytery of Philadelphia
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Michael Henry, Ruling Elder, Clerk of Session, Valley Forge Presbyterian Church, 2013 Moderator of the Presbytery of Philadelphia

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

First Reading: Acts 7:55-60

Second Reading 1: Peter 2:2-10

Gospel: John 14:1-14

Daily Readings for Sunday, May 14, 2017

Stephen’s Faith and Martyrdom

Today’s reading from Acts describes Stephen’s faith and martyrdom, a faith echoed in the Psalm 31 which is also a reading for today.
Notice, in particular, the short sentence in Acts 7:58: “Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.” This young man stood by and watched the stoning. We know this young man; he becomes the Apostle Paul.

Do we, like Saul, fail to say or do the right thing at the moment? Do we recognize danger, freeze, and become unable to do what is right? If we do nothing and stand aside while wrong is done, do we become complicit and, therefore, doomed before God? No, not doomed. God still seeks us. Look at Saul. We are only human and, by definition, imperfect physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But God is there. God waits for us. We get a second (or third, or fourth, or nth) chance.

The story in Acts recounts Stephen’s martyrdom, as he held to his faith in Christ; but it is also the prelude for the story of the Apostle Paul, a story of God’s incredible willingness to use flawed and misguided people, “normal” human beings just like us.

Shepherd of the Lost, help us to see your light and to have the courage to follow. Amen.