Monday, December 26, 2011

Stephen - a kitchen worker's role model

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 6:8-7:2a

TO CHEW ON: "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people .... And they (Synagogue of the Freedmen members who opposed Stephen) were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke." Acts 6:8,10

When we recruit for church kitchen volunteers or look for someone to administer our soup kitchens or free stores, are faith, power, and wisdom on the list of qualifications? It has always amazed me that such a talented, articulate man like Stephen was picked to do what we might consider the menial job of overseeing the distribution of food to foreign widows.

The twelve disciples seemed to think this food distribution job was beneath them ("It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables" - Acts 6:2). But Stephen, along with six others, willingly took on the task and, I believe, forever elevated the role of the kitchen volunteer.
  • Stephen's position put him in the public eye where his reputation as a man of faith and power was affirmed.
  • He had the platform to explain and defend his faith. In this capacity he showed himself someone who possessed irresistible wisdom and was full of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe I find Stephen so attractive because I have spent a fair amount of time serving in our church's kitchen. (In fact, on the day that I'm writing this, I'll be working in the kitchen for some hours, helping with a funeral tea.) The role comes with little prestige. We are often ignored, sometimes bossed around and generally treated like servants. But I think it's a privilege to be in the train of kitchen volunteers like Stephen who, when he was martyred for his faith, was welcomed into heaven by Jesus Himself (Acts 7:56-60).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that no kingdom service is menial to You. Help me to work with the right attitude today. Please gift me with the faith, power, and wisdom of Stephen as I serve. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Stephen

Today is the Feast in honor of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The liturgy for the day begins with this Collect:

"We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen."

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