Death is an ending, right? Not in God’s plan! Our 1st reading from Acts of the Apostles recounts Stephen’s ‘falling asleep’. Rather than a tragic account of brutal death, bringing an end to Stephen’s life, Luke points out the real significance. Not an ending, his stoning was a beginning. For him, a beginning of life in glory with his risen Lord. For the church, the beginning of the mission to the Gentiles. The result of the persecution culminating in Stephen’s death? The apostles faith was strengthened by the witness of how he forgave his enemies and entrusted himself to Christ. With that witness, the apostles fled Jerusalem. They began preaching in the diaspora, and the mission to the Gentiles began. Paul is present at the stoning, thus, in an ironic way, present as the Gentile mission is about to begin. (And he will benefit from Stephen’s prayer that his persecutors be forgiven!) God often brings purpose and blessing out of tragedy. When have you seen that happen? Take a moment or two this week to pray about it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016