I am always caught off guard

On December 26th the Church historically celebrates The Feast of St. Stephens and then on the 28th Holy Innocents Day is celebrated. Coming immediately after Christmas, they always seem to catch me off guard. On those days the daily Bible readings (for those who follow the lectionary) are of the stoning of Stephens in Acts 7 and of the killing of all the boys under age 2 in Bethlehem in Matthew chapter 2.

Unlike the joyous celebration of Christmas Day, these two special days quickly sober up any observant Christ follower.

Rembrandt’s Stoning of Stephen painted in 1625 when he was just 19 years old.

I love Advent and the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas Day. But the truth is, the incarnation was an invasion on planet earth by Jesus. He came to enemy territory as a baby, born of the virgin Mary. He lived among us. He cast his lot with us. He gave his life for us, and rose from the dead.

You need no reminding from me that you still live in enemy-occupied territory, awaiting your final home (Philippians 3:20). As we all await that final destination, the Apostle Paul said we do well to constantly remember that our battle is not against other people but rather a fight against rulers, authorities, powers of this dark work and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6). The Feast of St. Stephen and The Holy Innocents Day, coming immediately after Christmas as they do, help remind us to stay at our post, knowing that those who endure to the end will be saved.