While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 59b, 60a)
Upon writing this devotion, I am in the midst of getting ready for a trip to the Holy Land. We'll be wading in the Jordan, boating on the Sea of Galilee, sitting upon the mount of beatitudes, ascending into Jerusalem and walking the Via Dolorosa. All places where Jesus taught, prayed, ate, healed and forgave.
We are often reminded of God's forgiveness in our lives, both offered and received. The narrative of Stephen is one of surprising forgiveness given and received. He did not hold the wrongs against the people. Like Jesus, with a love so broad and so deep, he prays on their behalf, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 6:60a). God works peace in and through him.
We pray similar petitions in the Lord's Prayer, to offer and receive forgiveness. It's a good time of the year to walk in these footsteps of Jesus, praying in all hopefulness these petitions, and where possible acting upon them with God's help. May, the narratives of our collective faith journey take on new meaning and tangible realness as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus together.
Forgiving God, fill our lives with your peace. Where there is tension, ease it; where there is hurt, heal it; where there is hatred, grow love. Amen