St. Stephen’s Day

Yeah yeah, it’s technically on December 26.  But it transfers to August 3 (in Canadian Anglicanism, at least) – odd to sing Good King Wenceslas that day, though.  Here’s my St. Stephen’s sermon from this year – patron saint of the congregation in Swift Current.

I just returned from three weeks of vacation time.  During that time, I was able to take the kids to the park on a number of occasions.  It’s not always easy to take three kids to the park at once, as they tend to run in three directions when you get there.  I was pleased to take advantage of the city’s Families in the Park programme in the mornings, though.  I could take three kids to the park, and there were stations set up for playing with different toys, for doing different crafts, and of course there’s playground equipment right there.  And there were other adults there, too, overseeing different activities.

What it afforded me was the opportunity to sit down, on occasion.  Park benches can be a welcome relief after you’ve pushed a number of kids on swings, caught them at the bottom of slides, and chased them into bathrooms (duties that still fell to me!).  But you know, there were times when I’d jump up from the bench, too!  What do you suppose could make a worn out person like me jump up from a bench, when it’s just sitting there begging to be sat upon?

His name’s Aaron.  And when he goes running for the street – because he doesn’t understand moving vehicles, and drivers that don’t see every little child at the park, and doesn’t understand what impact does to people.  I would jump up to catch that guy in a heartbeat, because I don’t want to miss him.  Because he’s mine and I love him.

That’s why people stand when they could sit.  Because they’ve got something to do.  A fun challenge for you: read through 1 & 2 Samuel and take note of who’s sitting down and who’s standing up throughout.

It’s a part of our liturgical posture, too.  We stand for the Gospel reading on Sunday mornings, because the Gospel requires us to be ready to share it with others.  The Gospel sends us out to the world.  So we stand.  Because in hearing the Gospel we’ve got something to do.  We stand to recite the Creed, also.  Because reciting the Creed is active.

Consider, then, this interesting “something” from the Creed.  We all know it from saying the Creed, and from Scripture, that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father.  So here’s the thing that should jump out at you from the story of Stephen.  He sees a heavenly vision, and he sees the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.  Standing.  Not sitting.  Why do people who could be sitting stand?  Because they’ve got something to do.

As Stephen was persecuted, and taken to be stoned to death by the people, Jesus stood.  He was ready to receive His loved one.  And you know what – I want to be the kind of person Jesus stands up for, deeply loved and supported.  Jesus said:

32“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 10:32–33). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

In the words of the old hymn… Stand up, stand up for Jesus – ye soldiers of the Cross!  Stephen is remembered to this day, because he did.