While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
This story starts when Stephen is put in charge of charity among Christians to fulfill God's command, allowing the apostles to continue spreading the good news. He is arrested by the Jewish authority on false charges and in his trial he compares the Priests’ denial of Jesus’ divinity to the followers of Moses turning to idols. The scene of his death is a powerful one to me. Presumably steeped in despair and anger, he prays that his spirit be revived, and he goes on to pray for the forgiveness of his executioners, just as Jesus had.
This act of grace in the face of annihilation gives me ample food for thought. I can think of no greater epitome of forgiveness than this circumstance. I wonder whether they knew how their deeds would inspire those who heard of them, if that light shone in the distance amid their darkness. And that such a miraculous moral feat was done by not just the messiah but also a follower demonstrates how anyone can embody Christ’s Holy Spirit. It is evident how personal crisis can influence the arc of an individual’s life, I often consider how spiritual and social crisis, championed by small groups of individuals through history, have and continue to expand the horizons of human’s endeavors and increase the synergy among conflicting groups of people.
I pray for more tenderness in discourse, so that we may each better see where another person stands through the veil of our ignorance. And more aggressive devotion in our personal pursuits of those principles which we believe to be supremely valuable. Amen.