About six o'clock, my honourary son, Josh, and his partner, Matthew, arrived and we had a small, quiet meal together watching South Park Christmas shows. How sacrilegious can it get?
Following Christmas Day there are a couple of major feast days of the church that get lost - almost completely lost. The first is today, and it honours Stephen, the first martyr of the followers of Jesus. Steven is the principle figure in the holy card. I'm sure he didn't look that femenine or holy in real life, but I chose this card because it follows the Eastern Orthodox tradition - there are two things going on in the card.
Stephen was one of the first deacons of the church. If you notice the holy card at the right, you'll see that he holds the napkin which became the maniple, the chief vestment for deacons even today. The maniple was used long before the deacons began wearing soles. Sadly use of the maniple has fallen out of favour. I remember when the bishop used to make his annual visitation and he would have his bishop's vestments on, and the priesthood vestment and the maniple to show that he held all three offices of our church. Being the traditionalist I am, I wish the priests and deacons would return to wearing the maniple.
Stephen was called before the council and made a brilliant defense of Jesus. For that he was stoned to death. In the holy card you'll see that martyrdom going on in the back ground. Like Jesus, as Stephn was dying, he said "Lord, do not hold them accountable for this. You'll find Stephen's story in The Acts 6:8 - 7:2a, 51-60. Go read it.
The Collect for St. Stephen's Day
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.