Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Second Day of Christmas

Today is the Second Day of Christmas.  In the calendar of the Church it is also the day we remember the martyrdom of St. Stephen.  A deacon of the first century Church and the first martyr, Stephen was stoned while Saul, later to become the Apostle Paul, held the cloaks of those throwing the stones.  Stephen is said to have uttered the same words as our Lord, "Father, forgive them." This day was made famous by the John Mason Neale's carol, Good King Wencelas. The King and his page go out to help a poor man on the "Feast of Stephen."  Considered the longest and coldest night of the winter in ancient time, this day is a day to ask ourselves about the sacrifices to which we are often called as followers of Christ.  Sometimes, disciples of Christ are called to give even their life for the cause of the Gospel.
As we continue in our reflections on The Twelve Days of Christmas, today we remember the gift of two turtledoves.  The two written revelations of God's love for the world, the Old Testament and the New Testament, we are reminded that though our faith is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ, we know of this revelation through Holy Scripture.  Scripture is the primary authority of our faith for those of us in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Though we may use the traditions of the Church to interpret it in our own experiences using the gift of a reasonable mind, our faith is ultimately a Biblical Faith. Unfortunately, too many Protestants have abdicated the discipline to read and study Scripture for the much easier authority of our own personal experiences in search of an emotional high.
Imagine, if you will, what the thousands of Christians in other lands who pray each day for an opportunity to read and study Holy Scripture would say to many Christians in this nation as our Bibles gather dust on the bottom shelf of a coffee table.  It is not the leather clad pages that give us power and protect us from the darkness of doubt and fear, but the One to whom the writing on the pages bear witness.  It is Christ who is our Savior and Guide.  One of the most powerful ways to understand Him, to grow in deeper relationship with Him is to read the revelation of His ministry in the Gospels, the teaching of His person and work in the Epistles and His coming again in the Revelation to John.  Within the pages of the "first turtledove" we hear of God's creative power, His love for humanity and humanity's rebellion.  The Law and the Prophets lead us to promise of the Messiah.  Together, these two turtledoves, these two Testaments lead us to Christ and allow us to open our hearts to his word and in so doing, we become disciples of the Word, Jesus Christ.

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