For Us
St. Stephen, Martyr
26 December 2017
Most Americans have some idea that yesterday was the day on which Christians celebrated the Nativity of our Lord. The problem is that many have no idea that He was born for them. Knowing about Christmas and knowing that Christ was born for you are radically different things. We have a merry Christmas because the Lord Christ was born for us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church
   Martin Luther
"For whom was he born and whose Lord and Savior is He? The angels declare that He was born Lord and Savior....But that anyone could say, 'to you is born,' as the angel says, this is the faith which we must preach about. But we cannot preach about it as we would like to do. Indeed, who could ever grasp [the full meaning of] these words of the evangelist: 'a Savior, who is the Lord,' and, 'to you'! I know well enough how to talk about it and what to believe about it, just as others do.
 
"So there are many who have this belief and do not doubt this first belief that Christ is the Lord, the Savior, and the virgin's Son. This I too have never doubted. But if these words are planted no higher than in my thoughts, then they have no firm roots. We are certain that this was proclaimed by the angel, but the firm faith does not follow. For the reason does not understand both sides of this faith, first that Christ is a man, but also the Savior and Lord or King. This needs to be revealed from heaven. One who really has the first faith also has the other" 

Martin Luther, Sermon for Christmas Day

Acts 6-7

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us." And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
 
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (ESV)
Collect
Heavenly Father, grant us grace that in our sufferings for the sake of Christ we may follow the example of Saint Stephen, that we may look to Him who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 
Art: MARATTI, Carlo  The Holy Night (1650s)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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