To Serve With Love

Stephen was a man filled with grace and power,
who worked great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts of the Apostles 6:8

In the event that you were too busy to go online yesterday, CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS TO YOU! I hope that your Christmas preparations came to fruition with great love! Today, there’s nothing more to do than to continue to enjoy yesterday’s successes and to forget the rest. As I consider my own list of positives, I give thanks. I’ve been generously blessed. At the same time, I’m opting to forget the things which weren’t to my liking and are out of my control. I’ll work on my own contribution to those negatives in the new year!

With that, I turn my thoughts to today, December 26, The Feast of Stephen. Stephen is among the first chosen to serve as deacon to assist the apostles in carrying out Jesus’ work. While the apostles tended to preaching, Stephen and those like him tended to serving the corporal needs of the people. They saw to it that widows and orphans were fed and that those who needed care received it. Today, I hope to continue my Christmas observance by engaging in good deeds as well. The truth is that we’re all called to be good and just souls who live lives of service just as Stephen did.

On this feast of the first deacon, I offer my thanks to the many deacons among us for all they do for us and for those in need!

Dear God, thank you for the gifts of Christmas 2017, the Gift of the First Christmas and the gift of those who live the Christmas Spirit throughout the year.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Christmas Continues…

Following this, they selected Stephen,
a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit…”

From Acts of the Apostles 6:5

I enjoy the day after Christmas. What a gift this is! Our Christmas preparations have come to fruition in one way or another. Today, there is nothing more to do than to continue to enjoy the successes of our celebrations and, perhaps, to clean up a bit. As I ponder all that went well yesterday, I give thanks. Truly, I’m generously blessed. In gratitude, I insist to myself that I will disregard anything which was not to my liking or is out of my control. At the same time, I will pray for all concerned, including myself. After all, I’m the only one over whom I have jurisdiction.

In spite of the imperfections of my life, I hope to celebrate for a very long time the God who offered heaven to us from the hands of a little baby. Today, on this Feast of St. Stephen, I hope to be known as a good and just soul just as Stephen was. Like the good Stephen, I hope to take all that Jesus means to this world to heart and to share these things generously. Like the good Stephen, I hope to present a worthy heart -as best mine can be- to God one day. In the process, I hope to bring a bit of Christmas to every day.

Dear God, thank you for the gifts of Christmas 2016 and for the Gift of the first Christmas. Jesus truly changed my life and this world forever!

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Stay or Retreat?

“…you always oppose the Holy Spirit;
you are just like your ancestors.”
From Acts 7:51

Perhaps this is a lingering remnant from my childhood. My parents were extremely tolerant people. Perhaps it is a reference to my belief that all children and their adult counterparts actually can learn. Perhaps it is a sincere attempt to imitate the openness and acceptance that Jesus offered to those he met along the way. Whatever the reason, I find it difficult to “write off” a fellow human being. This is the reason I featured today’s scripture passage. The words are Stephen’s, the first Christian martyr. He had enough of the persecutions of his fellow believers and he spoke up. Sadly, this effort cost him his life. Those within earshot became so enraged with Stephen’s words that they stoned him to death.

I share this because we all sometimes find it difficult to remove ourselves from the company of those who seem not to be acting in the best interest of others. This is especially difficult when we are people of faith who sincerely attempt to look at others as God’s children. Though I believe “retreat” should be reserved for only insurmountable and unchangeable situations, retreat is an option just the same. Fortunately, we will likely not be stoned for our efforts. Though we may be ostracized or isolated, in the long run, we will also be better off.

Loving God, give me the wisdom to know when I have had enough and the courage to act accordingly.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Feast of Stephen

The Stephen already spoken of was a man filled with grace and power,
who worked great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts of the Apostles 6:8

What a gift we have in this day after Christmas! Our Christmas preparations came to fruition yesterday. Today, there is nothing more to do than to continue to enjoy the successes of our celebrations and to forget the rest. As I consider my own list of positives, I give thanks. I am generously blessed. I am opting to forget the things which were or are not to my liking and out of my control. Rather, I pray for improvement on the part of all concerned, especially myself. After all, I am the only one over whom I have jurisdiction.

So it is that I turn my thoughts to today, December 26, The Feast of Stephen. Stephen is among the first chosen to serve as deacon to assist the apostles in carrying out Jesus’ work. While the apostles tended to preaching, Stephen and those like him tended to serving the corporal needs of the people. They saw to it that widows and orphans were fed and that everyone who needed care received it. Today, I hope to continue my Christmas observance by engaging in good deeds as well. We are all called to be good and just souls who live The Word just as Stephen did.

Today, I also acknowledge the three deacons at my parish church who take care of so many of our practical needs just as Stephen did. My thanks to you, Ivan, Mark and my husband Mike, for all that you do for us!

Dearest God, thank you for the gifts of Christmas 2015, the Gift of the First Christmas and the gift of those who live the spirit of this season throughout the year.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

If Necessary, Walk Away…

You stiff-necked people,
uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit;
you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets
did your ancestors not persecute?
Acts 7:51-52

As Easter approaches, I am extremely busy, fatigue is setting in and my “people skills” are being tested to the nth degree. Still, I have an extremely difficult time “writing off” anyone, even those who seem to undermine my every effort these days.

Perhaps this incapacity to walk away from anyone is a lingering remnant of my childhood. My parents were extremely welcoming people. Perhaps it is an offshoot of my belief that all children –and their adult counterparts- can learn. Perhaps it is a sincere attempt to imitate the openness and acceptance which Jesus offered to those he met along the way. Whatever the reason, I find it extremely difficult to “write off” a fellow human being. This is the reason I cite the scripture passage above. The words are St. Stephen’s, the first Christian martyr. Stephen had enough of the persecutions of his fellow believers and he spoke up. Jesus voiced the equivalent to the scribes and Pharisees who refused to consider his message of mercy while they hypocritically burdened the people with their own preaching.

I share this because we all sometimes find it difficult to remove ourselves from those around us who do not have our best interests at heart. Though I believe “retreat” should be reserved for only insurmountable and unchangeable situations, as Jesus and Stephen assure us, retreat is an option just the same.

Compassionate God, give me the wisdom to know when I have had enough and the courage to act accordingly.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

The Feast of Stephen

As Stephen was being stoned,
he could be heard praying,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Acts of the Apostles 7:59

I have always enjoyed the day after Christmas. What a gift it is! All of our Christmas preparations came to fruition in one way or another yesterday. Today, there is nothing more to do than to continue to enjoy the successes of our celebrations and to forget the rest. As I ponder my own list of positives, I give thanks. I am generously blessed. As I will myself to forget the things which were or are not to my liking and out of my control, I pray for improvement on the part of all concerned, especially myself. After all, I am the only one over whom I have jurisdiction.

In spite of the imperfections of my life, I hope to celebrate for a very long time the God who offered heaven to us from the hands of a baby. Today, on this Feast of St. Stephen, I hope to be known as a good and just soul, just as Stephen was. Like the good Stephen, I hope to take all that Jesus means to this world to heart and to share these things generously. Like the good Stephen, I hope to present a worthy heart to God one day.

Dearest God, thank you for the gifts of Christmas 2014 and the Gift of the first Christmas. Jesus truly changed my life and this world forever!

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved