Deaconess Dorothy Krans, Grace Rao, Pastor Peter Lange 1st Vice President of the Kansas District, Rev Tony Booker, Missionary, Rev Al Collver, Director of Church Relations LCMS, James Krikava, missionary and Kay Kreklau< President of the Lutheran Womens Missionary League.

I started out this week talking about Al Collver and Kaye Kreklau being in the Czech Republic and looking at our mission work there.  Al remembered that I wrote a Christmas pageant/play for World Relief and Human Care based on Stephan Starke’s additional words to the old Christmas song “Good King Wenceslaus” because he was in the good King’s country.  The song starts out “Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen”.

Lutherans are the only Christians who recognize December 26th or Second Christmas Day as the Feast of St. Stephen.  St Stephen was one of those chosen in the early church to help in the feeding of the poor and he was the first Christian Martyr. Martyr means ‘witness” and he witnessed to his faith by proclaiming Christ and dying. Remember Stephen was stoned to death and the people that threw the stones laid their coats at the feet on a man named Saul who later became Paul.

December 27th is the feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist? He was banished to an island called Patmos because of his witness to Jesus. He wrote Revelations and he was the only one of the Apostles who died a natural death –all the rest, like Stephen were killed because of their faith.

December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the babies murdered by Herod around Bethlehem. Lutherans recognize all these feasts and all these saints because they witnessed to us. Stephen and John and even the babies who didn’t know Jesus are witnesses. Stephen and the babies gave their lives and John gave his life in a different way

Some people say that these three days show the three ways that we can be martyrs (witnesses) – in will and deed like Stephen, in will but not deed like John, in deed but not will like the babies. The church for three days after Christmas celebrated and recognized people that gave their lives in one way or another for Jesus.