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Epistle Reflection

Christ has called us from darkness into his marvellous light.
We who were not a people at all, are now God’s people.
We were outside God’s mercy once,
but now we are blessed and forgiven.

New Testament Reading - The Stoning of Stephen

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51“You stiff-necked heathen! Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? But your fathers did, and so do you! 52Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One — the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 53Yes, and you deliberately destroyed God’s laws, though you received them from the hands of angels.”a

54The Jewish leaders were stung to fury by Stephen’s accusation and ground their teeth in rage. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily upward into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. 56And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and Jesus the Messiahb standing beside God, at his right hand!”

57Then they mobbed him, putting their hands over their ears, and drowning out his voice with their shouts, 58 and dragged him out of the city to stone him. The official witnesses—the executioners—took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.c

59And as the murderous stones came hurtling at him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60And he fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” and with that, he died.

8 1Saul was in complete agreement with the killing of Stephen.

And a great wave of persecution of the believers began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria.

. . . . . Acts 7:51–8:1a
  1. Literally, “the Law as it was ordained by angels.”
  2. Literally, “the Son of Man.”
  3. Saul, later became Paul.

Intercession

Pray for 3 people on your heart ending with the prayer below.

To you, O Lord, we lift our eyes;
to you, enthroned in the heavens.
Lord, have mercy. E te Ariki, kia aroha mai.
Let our cry come before you, O Lord;
grant us understanding, according to your word.
Christ, have mercy. E te Karaiti, kia aroha mai.
Let your merciful goodness come to us, O Lord;
and your salvation, according to your promise.
Lord, have mercy. E te Ariki, kia aroha mai.
Satisfy those who thirst,
and fill the hungry with good things.
Christ, have mercy. E te Karaiti, kia aroha mai.
Your kingship has dominion over all,
and with you is our redemption.
Lord, have mercy. E te Ariki, kia aroha mai.
Amen.