Most afternoons as I sit in my office, I have children’s music lessons playing in the background. I usually know they are there, but I really don’t hear them. It isn’t that I tune them out, I just don’t note them.
The other day I did notice as one youngster played “Good King Wenceslas.”
It literally took me back a decade. At the time, I wrote a blog about the first line of that carol. Much to my surprise, I actually found that long ago writing on my external hard drive. I would like to share it with you now.
I’ll bet our youngest son, Matty, has practiced this song on the piano 150 times over the last two Advent and Christmas seasons. In fact, he will be playing it for our Christmas program on December 23.
Every time he plays it, I sing along and really emphasize, “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen…” And he giggles most every time. Today, 18 year old Matthew (no longer known as Matty) rarely giggles.
I’ll also bet I have told him at least 10 times that my great grandmother named me after the Stephen in the Bible, and that according to the ancient church calendar, December 26, is designated St. Stephen Day. The date is set aside to remember the first deacon, first great preacher, and first martyr in Christian history in a special way.
You really need to read my namesake’s story in Acts 6:1-8:1. In an important way, his story is our story, even if we all have not been named after him.
Inspired by his faith in Jesus Christ this simple, ordinary man was able to do remarkable things:
- The Apostles chose and ordained him as a Deacon, a servant of God’s people.
- When challenged, this “servant – this waiter of tables” preached a remarkable sermon demonstrating beyond any doubt that all of salvation history climaxes in Jesus Christ.
- As Stephen was being murdered, using Jesus’ own words Stephen asked that the killers be forgiven, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” (Act 7:60).
- In death he went to God’s right hand into the Kingdom of Heaven, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56). And we will someday join them in the Kingdom.Our stories might not seem as dramatic as Stephen’s, but we indeed share his ministry and his ultimate name: Christian – forever follower of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
When I think about it, I am glad to be named after him, even though I feel puny compared to St. Stephen. Yet, we, ordinary people, ordinary believers, like Stephen have been given the remarkable gift of faith, and God has given us all the ways and means to live out this faith in our own remarkable ways.