December 26th, 2017

St. Stephen the Matyr


Collect (LSB)

Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Old Testament (LSB): 2 Chron. 24:17-22


17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. 18 Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. 19 Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the LORD; and they testified against them, but they would not listen. 20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you.’” 21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, “The LORD look on it, and repay!”



Epistle: Acts 6:8-15; Acts 7:54-60


Stephen Accused of Blasphemy

    8 And Stephen, full of faith[a] and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous[b] words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Footnotes:Acts 6:8 NU-Text reads grace. Acts 6:13 NU-Text omits blasphemous.




Stephen the Martyr

    54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.



Gospel: Matt. 23:34-39


34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
    37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’[a]

Footnotes:Matthew 23:39 Psalm 118:26


First Reading: Is. 49:22-26; Is. 50:4-51:8; Is. 51:12-16


22 Thus says the Lord GOD:
      “ Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
      And set up My standard for the peoples;
      They shall bring your sons in their arms,
      And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
       23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
      And their queens your nursing mothers;
      They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
      And lick up the dust of your feet.
      Then you will know that I am the LORD,
      For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”
       24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty,
      Or the captives of the righteous[a] be delivered? 25 But thus says the LORD:
      “ Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
      And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
      For I will contend with him who contends with you,
      And I will save your children.
       26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
      And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
      All flesh shall know
      That I, the LORD, am your Savior,
      And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Footnotes:Isaiah 49:24 Following Masoretic Text and Targum; Dead Sea Scrolls, Syriac, and Vulgate read the mighty; Septuagint reads unjustly.




4 “ The Lord GOD has given Me
      The tongue of the learned,
      That I should know how to speak
      A word in season to him who is weary.
      He awakens Me morning by morning,
      He awakens My ear
      To hear as the learned.
       5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
      And I was not rebellious,
      Nor did I turn away.
       6 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
      And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
      I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
       7 “ For the Lord GOD will help Me;
      Therefore I will not be disgraced;
      Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
      And I know that I will not be ashamed.
       8 He is near who justifies Me;
      Who will contend with Me?
      Let us stand together.
      Who is My adversary?
      Let him come near Me.
       9 Surely the Lord GOD will help Me;
      Who is he who will condemn Me?
      Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
      The moth will eat them up.
       10 “ Who among you fears the LORD?
      Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
      Who walks in darkness
      And has no light?
      Let him trust in the name of the LORD
      And rely upon his God.
       11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
      Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
      Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
      This you shall have from My hand:
      You shall lie down in torment.

The LORD Comforts Zion
 1 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
      You who seek the LORD:
      Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
      And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.
       2 Look to Abraham your father,
      And to Sarah who bore you;
      For I called him alone,
      And blessed him and increased him.”
       3 For the LORD will comfort Zion,
      He will comfort all her waste places;
      He will make her wilderness like Eden,
      And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
      Joy and gladness will be found in it,
      Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
       4 “ Listen to Me, My people;
      And give ear to Me, O My nation:
      For law will proceed from Me,
      And I will make My justice rest
      As a light of the peoples.
       5 My righteousness is near,
      My salvation has gone forth,
      And My arms will judge the peoples;
      The coastlands will wait upon Me,
      And on My arm they will trust.
       6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
      And look on the earth beneath.
      For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
      The earth will grow old like a garment,
      And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
      But My salvation will be forever,
      And My righteousness will not be abolished.
       7 “ Listen to Me, you who know righteousness,
      You people in whose heart is My law:
      Do not fear the reproach of men,
      Nor be afraid of their insults.
       8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
      And the worm will eat them like wool;
      But My righteousness will be forever,
      And My salvation from generation to generation.”
      





12 “ I, even I, am He who comforts you.
      Who are you that you should be afraid
      Of a man who will die,
      And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
       13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
      Who stretched out the heavens
      And laid the foundations of the earth;
      You have feared continually every day
      Because of the fury of the oppressor,
      When he has prepared to destroy.
      And where is the fury of the oppressor?
       14 The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed,
      That he should not die in the pit,
      And that his bread should not fail.
       15 But I am the LORD your God,
      Who divided the sea whose waves roared—
      The LORD of hosts is His name.
       16 And I have put My words in your mouth;
      I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
      That I may plant the heavens,
      Lay the foundations of the earth,
      And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”



Second Reading: Matt. 1:18-25


Christ Born of Mary

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”[a] which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.[b] And he called His name JESUS.

Footnotes:Matthew 1:23 Isaiah 7:14. Words in oblique type in the New Testament are quoted from the Old Testament. Matthew 1:25 NU-Text reads a Son.


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