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Sunday, December 26 was the first Sunday after Christmas and is also the feast of Saint Stephen. The church was ablaze with the color red with poinsettias around the altar and red vestments and altar linens in honor of the martyr Stephen; red is used on the feasts of martyrs.
Fr. Glen based his sermon on the story of St. Stephen, saying that on this day we enter a period of commemorating suffering for God’s cause as in the case of Stephen, then discussed the history of Stephen’s martyrdom. At that time Christmas had become divided between Greek and Jewish Christmas and Stephen was chosen as one of seven among the Greeks to oversee food distribution. Stephen was charged by Jewish leaders with blasphemy against Moses, the temple and God after preaching a sermon which according to them attacked nationalism and religious traditionalism, and he was stoned to death. His death was witnessed by Saul, who later became St. Paul, and it has been said that if St. Stephen had not prayed St. Paul would not have preached.
This week also honors two more examples of suffering for God’s cause. December 28 is Holy Innocents Day, which commemorates the boys who died in Herod’s attempt to kill Jesus. Then December 29 is the Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, the 12th century archbishop assassinated in his cathederal.
Everyone is welcome at St. Francis Anglican (Traditional Episcopal) Church where Fr. Glen Hartley leads services Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Visit our website at stfrancisavamo.org.