Many people think the Twelve Days of Christmas are before Christmas Day, but they are actually the days between Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, the Visit of the Wise Men. This year I’m observing the Twelve Days of Christmas with a short Scripture and prayer.
On the First Day of Christmas we remember, St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr.
Acts 7:48-60 (ESV)
48 [Stephen said] Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 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. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[b] at him. 58 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. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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.
Heavenly Father, as St. Stephen died a martyr, forgiving his persecutors as our Lord forgave His persecutors, give us the will and strength to stand for You against all enemies and still forgive those who would persecute us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.