Feast of St. Stephen the Younger (November 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Triumph of Orthodoxy

SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 714-NOVEMBER 28, 764)

Defender of Icons

Yesterday, in a post (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/feast-of-st-nicholas-tavelic-and-his-companions-november-13/), I wrote of non-Christians killing Christians.  In that post I stated the following:

I am a Christian.  Here I stand; I will do no other.  My understanding of God is that “God is love.”  And love does not condone killing people over religious differences.  Unfortunately, many previous adherents of my own tradition have condoned and/or committed such violence toward Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others.  I condemn those deeds and those who condoned or committed them.  Likewise, I condemn such deeds and those who condone or commit them when non-Christians commit them.  Religious differences ought to lead to civilized dialogue in the best cases and to agreements to disagree in the worst cases, but never violence.

Today’s post reinforces those words.

St. Stephen the Younger (circa 714-764), born at Constantinople, became a monk at the Monastery of St. Auxentius (in Bithynia, in modern-day Turkey) when he was fifteen years old.  He served as abbot there from 744 to 756, when he retired to become a hermit. The Council of Hieria (754) and Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos (reigned 741-775) insisted upon iconoclasm.  The hermit opposed this policy.  So, beginning in 760, he suffered persecution, including imprisonment then banishment.  The saint, recalled before the Emperor in 764 made the point about respecting images with a powerful gesture:  He stomped on a coin bearing the imperial visage.  For this the saint died violently.

Iconoclasm (of the religious variety) confuses me.  We humans are visual beings.  God might be invisible, but we still need to see something, such as an artist’s depiction of Jesus.  I admit that most of these paintings are wildly inaccurate and many of them are kitschy; almost all depict our Lord and Savior as if he had been a northern European Protestant, not a Palestinian Jew.  But we so need to see something.  Imprisoning, banishing, and executing people for that is inexcusable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD HOOKER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF DANIEL PAYNE, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF PAKISTAN, 1970

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gracious God,

in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of

Saint Stephen the Younger,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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