Our church’s Patron Saint is a Deacon, not a Prophet, Priest, or King:
This should serve as a constant reminder to us: participation and faithfulness are twin virtues that make all the difference in the Kingdom. We encourage you to wholeheartedly serve God with your talents, treasure and time. Practical ministry propelled this servant into a collision with the Pharisees and his fearless actions would forever motivate those who followed to do likewise.
Immediately following the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, the early Christian Church saw the number of Christ followers rapidly multiplying, so the Disciples set deacons in place to serve the people.
Archdeacon Stephen, the oldest among them was a pillar in the community and a man of great faith. In the New Testament account, his ministry of service would quickly transition from waiting tables and serving, to a confrontation with religious and political leaders who brought charges against him of the same things Jesus had been accused of – conspiring to destroy the temple and blasphemy.
Deacon Stephen responded to his accusers with a full historical account of the prophets who had been slain through the ages. This comprehensive indictment of all those who had slain the Prophets was so compelling during his trial before the Sanhedrin that they covered their ears and raised their voices to drown out his words. His speech so thoroughly infuriated them that they would drag him outside the city to stone him.
Our Patron Saint imitated Christ by asking forgiveness for his accusers WHILE being stoned.
Saul the persecutor of the Church, attended this public execution, holding the coats of the witnesses. He would later find the truth of Jesus Christ – Saul would eventually become Paul. While there’s not a specific commentary of this connection in the scriptures, there must have been something that began to prick his heart during this martyrdom. A radical and aggressive attempt to snuff out the rebellious factions of Christians failed miserably, and the Church grew stronger and stronger, ignited rather than quenched.
Inspired by the Protomartyr, the early saints would ALL refuse to deny Christ, and would become martyrs with him.
The word “martyr,” means “witness” – someone who bears the testimony of truth. In his life and his death Saint Stephen bears the great truth of Christ; risen and glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen!