From the splendid robes of Christmas, the Church moves to the red vestments of the martyr on St Stephen’s Day, the feast of the first to give his life in the Christian era. Like Jesus, Stephen teaches forgiveness; like Jesus too, he suffered death for being faithful; with Jesus, he shares victory in the Kingdom of Heaven.
As we honour St Stephen, the patron of forgiveness, we remember moments we failed in mercy: (pause)
Lord Jesus, you came to reconcile us to one another and to the Father: Lord, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you heal the wounds of sin and division: Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you intercede for us with your Father: Lord, have mercy.
Introduction to the Scripture Readings
Acts 6:8-10, 7, 54-59 — The martyrdom of Stephen is described, the result of his preaching the Gospel.
Matthew 10: 17-22 — Jesus warns his disciples that they will suffer; they are not to be afraid.
Introduction (by the Presider) Let us bring our prayers to God, our mighty stronghold.
For Christians who face persecution, that they may have the courage of St Stephen (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
For deacons, that like St Stephen, they may preach God’s word faithfully (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
For the poor and troubled, that Christians may ever care for those in need (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
For ourselves, that we may never be afraid to speak up for our faith (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
For our families as we celebrate together, that we may love each other patiently (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
For forgiveness among us, that we may quickly make peace when quarrels start (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
The presider prays for the dead: For those who have passed beyond this world, that they may behold the glory of God with St Stephen and all the saints (pause for quiet prayer). Lord, hear us.
Conclusion (by the Presider) Into your hands, O Lord, we commend our spirits, confident that you are a rock of refuge for us: hear our prayers and grant us your grace, we pray, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Red vestments. To honour St Stephen, focus on the ministry of the deacon, and the ministry of care for the poor in the parish. Preface of Christmas II. Eucharistic Prayer II. Solemn Blessing (Christmas).
Songs: Christmas Carols.