Our home is full e-minders, smart phones, tablets, and computers. But our refrigerator is the place many reminders get put. It is also the where all our seasonal remembrances go. They are not like the e-minders, they are far more important. The cards etc. remind us of those we have long relationships with, even though we do not see them, or may be even communicate with them often. They are no less important in our lives. In some ways the front of our frig is a bit like scripture, in that one of the things scripture does is to remind us of who we are in relationship with, God in Jesus Christ, and the long history of that relationship. Those historical remembrances are important.
Today is the feast day for St. Stephen. Personally I think he drew the short straw, what chance is there for a regular remembrance of his feast day, the day after Christmas; but no matter, it is when it is, and that not why I am drawn to his remembrance today. We all know Stephen’s story from Acts. As a result of the stresses of tremendous growth of the primitive church, the Disciples decided to delegate responsibility for distributing alms to seven worthy men. Stephen was selected, and was perhaps the first, to be what we now call Deacons. The next piece of the story is the results of Stephen’s grace and power. It seems some in the synagogue were jealous of his abilities as well as his good standing, spirit and wisdom, so they effectively plot to put him to death. We know they succeed. But that’s not what got my attention.
That is just how much Stephen’s behavior follows Jeremiah’s in his conflict with Jehoikim’s court. They get offended when he passes on to them the word that God will make this house like Shiloh… which was destroyed by the Philistines long ago. Not only do they take offense, they pronounce that You shall die! Surrounded by angry dangerous people, Jeremiah does not defend himself, or try to argue the position. He simply says God said this. And for me, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. And again mentions that the words are God’s. Stephen acts the same way. He answers the high priest’s questions straight up. When the crowd get enraged, he doesn’t back down, or mitigate his words, he stands in the truth of God in Jesus Christ. And when he is being killed, he does not curse them, he ask Jesus to receive his spirit and to forgive those killing him.
What is so poignant is that both Jeremiah and Stephen trust what Paul will refer to as promises not seen. Even though they cannot see it, that there is not physical proof for it, both trust God, both have faith in God.
We are better off for the trust both Jeremiah and Stephen showed. I’d bet Stephen remembered Jeremiah’s story, and that it inspired him. I know we will be better off if we remember their stories, and allow those remembrances to inspire our lives, our trust in God in Jesus.