EP: Psalm 118; Wisdom 4:7-15; Acts 7:59-8:8
Well, it's over. Let the post-holiday shopping madness begin! Even bigger discounts at the stores, even bigger and longer lines to get out of the store. I suppose those kinds of deals are hard to pass-up. But all that pushing and shoving and the disheveled nature of all the merchandise makes it all seem rather unappealing.
I remember as a child waking up the day after Christmas and going downstairs to look at and play with the presents I opened the day before, also being aware of the debris left over from the family parties that had happened later on Christmas Day. I remember feeling a sense of let-down: all the excitement and build-up to Christmas and now it's over. So, what's next?
We are given a model for what's next by the Feast Day we have on the church calendar today. We celebrate the life and martyrdom of St. Stephen this day, the day after Christmas. Stephen is the first of the seven named individuals who were identified to assist the disciples in administrative tasks and other duties. These seven had hands laid on them, ordaining them, and it is from these seven individuals that the order of the deacon developed. Steven is quickly killed by the leaders of the synagogue after an inspired defense of Jesus Christ's ministry.
Stephen knew what was next. I am not suggesting martyrdom for us. I am suggesting that there is more to the celebration of Christmas than presents and parties. What is next is our ability to live into, and assist in the continuing creation of, the kingdom that Christ which begins for us by his birth. Some will argue that this kingdom doesn't begin until after Christ is crucified. Others will argue that the kingdom will not come until Christ returns. Perhaps they are right. I think Jesus says often enough that his presence on earth opens the door to this new kingdom. We, as the Body of Christ at work in the world, are the ones charged with effectuating the continuing creation of this kingdom. That is what is next.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.