Lectionary Year A
April 28, 2002
Step V: Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features
(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in this text" is the persons of God in it;
the Holy Spirit fills Stephen, God and the Son of Man are seen when the heavens open and the Lord (presumably, Christ?) whom Stephen asks to pardon the stoners. Perhaps, the next most important character in this story is Stephen and his approach to his death. The ones who dragged him from town and stoned him to death are indispensable to the story, but we have to call them minor parts in the larger scheme of things here, don't we?
B. Smoother Translation
(JFC) 55 Being full of Holy Spirit, Stephen looked up into heaven and saw the
glory of God and Jesus standing at God's right hand 56 and he said , "Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand." 57 But crying out in a loud voice the crowd out-sounded the hearing of them and they rushed together at Stephen 58 and they forced/drove him from the city and they stoned him. And the witnesses threw off their coats/cloaks/garments and they put them at the feet of a young man named Saul, 59 and they stoned this Stephen as he was praying and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 And then going onto a knee (to pray) he cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold against them this their sin." And having said this, he died.
C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) Alice Adams (1848-92) U. S. diarist, sister of William and Henry James, in a
letter, December 11, 1891, to her brother, psychologist William James (published in the Diary of Alice James, ed. By Leon Edel, 1864), wrote, "The difficulty about all this dying, is that you can't tell a fellow anything about it, so where does the fun come in?" As frivolous as this (rhetorical?) question seems at first reading, it might be worth mulling over here. If fun resembles fulfillment, then some fun/fulfillment, at least for Christians, comes with death when we realize we die, as we live, with God, in God's presence, with God's constant and endless attendance. So, being with God in death can be fulfilling and fun, as well. And, if we, as did Stephen, forgive all who've done us wrong before dying, the fulfillment is limitless, to be sure, for the believer.
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