Feast of St. Stephen[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 23, 121 (morning) // 118 (evening)
2 Chronicles 24:17-22
A deacon recently joined our parish ministry team, and his practice at the Eucharist is to receive communion last. It’s been disconcertingly hard for me to remember to serve him. I scoop the remaining hosts into a receptacle and set them aside, or push extra bread and wine on other altar ministers, or (most embarrassingly) swallow the last of the wine myself before I remember that someone is waiting for his share of Christ’s body and blood. I make sure we have enough for the organist or for the ushers, since they usually come forward last. But I sometimes forget about the deacon, waiting right there beside me.
Today we remember Stephen the martyr, often numbered among the very first deacons. As our second reading shows us, the ministry of service that Stephen and six others were chosen for involved making sure that everyone in need had enough. Some Greek widows were apparently being overlooked “in the daily distribution of food,” and the apostles appointed deacons to make sure that everyone in need received their portion.
Even today, as the deacon at my parish has proven, it’s easy to neglect those who are waiting to be served. Before we realize that someone has gone unfed, we whisk away the leftovers, give more to those who already have, or take too much ourselves. In memory of Stephen today, may we pause to scan the room for those who have been quietly left out.