“As the rocks rained down, ‘Stephen prayed, Master Jesus, take my life.’ Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘Master, don’t blame them for this sin’—his last words. Then he died. Acts 7:59-60 (The Message Bible)
Just yesterday we were kneeling by the Christ child in his manger in awe of this miracle. Today we are back to reality—the story of Stephen, a follower of the Savior Jesus, who is being stoned for what he believes and says as a follower of Christ. But the amazing part of this story is his last words of forgiveness. With barely any breath left in his lungs, he asks God to not blame those who are throwing stones at him.
Perhaps throughout the holidays, there were opportunities for families who had spent days looking forward to spending time together again, to get into arguments and end up with bad feelings. The spirit of Christmas doesn’t mean that human beings are going to be able shed history and bad feelings that may have been building for years.
The good news is that it is never too late to forgive and forget—to start again. If forgiveness seems impossible, it may be time to start by forgiving yourself for whatever your part in creating the bad feelings and to begin to believe that you want to forgive and forget. Perhaps like Stephen, you’ll then be able to say, “Master, don’t blame them for this sin….”
Dear Lord, the “i” in the word “sin” reminds me that I, too, am a sinful creature and how much I need to reconcile my own sinful ways. Amen.