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A message for the week starting on Sunday 7th May 2023

Lectionary Week: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Prescribed Texts: Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31: 1-5 and 15-16, I Peter 2:2-10, John 14: 1-14

My Attitude in Life-Threatening Situations

Focus text:  Acts 7:55-60

Stephen’s attitude is amazing. He is under immense psychological pressure, as the death penalty had already been given to him for being a follower of Christ. Yet, we do not see Stephen disturbed. He seemed to have heard at this moment the voice of Jesus Christ as He spoke the words of comfort recorded in John 14:1-14. Therefore, Stephen is confident in his Lord. 

In fact, right there he reported the vision he had regarding his Lord, Jesus Christ. Stephen’s quiet attitude leads me to imagine that at this moment he could have had the Davidic Psalm in his mind (see Psalm 31:1-5; 15-16), even though, unlike David, he did not have time to request God to rescue him because he was already on the verge of death. 

Anyway, he resembles David as he shows his unwavering faith in God when faced with great danger. There is no doubt that Stephen was part of the new family that Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9. Interestingly, Stephen did not deny his Lord, as those people Peter referred to in his letter (see I Peter 2:2-10) who rejected the Cornerstone (Jesus Christ). Stephen chose to die for Christ instead of denying Him publicly. Thus, he was stoned to death. 

The other interesting aspect that Stephen shows us, is forgiveness. He did not curse his murderers, as it is common in the world, based on the principle of retribution. Rather, Stephen interceded for his murderers so that the sin they committed for killing him, would not be attributed to them. What a great moral attitude!

To think about:

Stephen’s attitude should lead us to ask ourselves many questions, such as for example:

1. How would I react during difficult situations like persecution, discrimination and/or stigmatization for being HIV positive/HIV affected person and/or for having a different skin colour, sexual orientation, political ideology, faith creed or low economic status?

2. How unwavering would my faith remain in God in troubling times that would likely put my physical existence to an end for being a Christian disciple?

3. How big is my heart to the point that I can easily forgive anyone who does me wrong, even though such a wrong, in the worst scenario, implies my own death?

Written by: Rev. Eduardo Sassa, based in Luanda, Angola, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator