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Acts 7:54–8:1, The Stoning of Stephen

Saturday, April 14

Rippling Effects

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 our lives have rippling effects

Stephen's long speech to the Council finally pushed them over the edge. In a fit of anger, they stoned Stephen to death. But it was not the end. Standing over the execution was Saul, who that day intensified his efforts to persecute, arrest, and kill followers of Christ. I have to imagine the event of Stephen's death fueled Saul, which in turn set him on a path that would forever change his (and our) life. Would Paul's story have been so dramatic if he, when Saul, had not so passionately persecuted God's children? Would his transformation have been so widely known so quickly if he had not been the terror-striking Saul-persecutor-of-Christians? Would he have followed Jesus as aggressively if he had not as equally aggressively persecuted Jesus' followers?

We do not always have the privilege of knowing how the events of our own lives shape the larger events God puts into motion. But all of the things we say or do, or don't say or do have rippling effects on the universe. We matter. Our lives matter. We shape the universe, even as the universe shapes us. What will you do with the life you're given?

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 7:54–8:1

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.