Stoning of St. Stephen, image by Nick Thompson via Flickr; licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
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Acts 6:1--7:2a, 44-60 Commentary
by Eric Barreto
When I was growing up in church, the Acts of the Apostles was read in a very particular way.
The text was assumed to be a largely straightforward, historical accounting of the earliest days of the church. It recorded the who, what, when, where, and why of the early church. How then does this text about antiquity and its events influence us today? In the churches where I grew up, this text was regarded as the record of the church as it should be. There was an impulse to go back to the church as it was in its earliest days. A sort of theological nostalgia guided our reading of this text: if only we could do church the way it used to be done, we would be in a much better place.
Our text today seems to shatter this reading practice. First, we read about a church divided along linguistic and cultural lines, a church that cannot live into the promise of a community where “there was not a needy person among them” (4:34). Second, we see church leaders too busy to deal with the distribution of food to the widows. Third, we read about the demise of Stephen, a martyrdom that seems ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL270: Stephen's Witness
April 30, 2017
This podcast on Acts 6:1--7:2a, 44-60, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Apr. 30, 2017, features Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Matt Skinner. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.