Day Two — 26 December

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia

Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

Readings (Click the links to see the readings)

2 Chronicles 24.17-22 | Psalm 31.1-8 | Acts 6.8-10; 7.54-60 | Matthew 10.17-22


Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). The martyrdom of Saint Stephen, 1944, Vatican museums

Good King Wenceslas, The Irish Rovers. Illustrations from a book by John M. Neale and Tim Ladwig


This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night. Our world is sick with war; everywhere we turn we see its ominous possibilities. And yet, my friends, the Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power. …

Now let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools. …

Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. … Be assured that we'll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory." … With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day; the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy.
—"A Christmas Sermon on Peace" by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in The Wisdom of the Word Love: Great African-American Sermons, edited by Rhinold Ponder and Michele Tuck-Ponder. New York: Crown Publishers, 1997.


Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.
—St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

May the Lord, who has called out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.