December 21, 2021
In case you haven’t heard, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the great former Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa, died this morning at age 90.
Archbishop Tutu once said,
But our job now is not to cherish it and hold it close to our hearts.
Our job now is to turn around and to continue to share this love with others.
Our job is take this love and reflect it for everyone to see.
So, in a very real sense, we, at St. Stephen’s, are doing what that first St. Stephen did.
We are striving to do what Archbishop Tutu did.
We have set the standard.
We have embodied who and what both St. Stephen the Martyr and Desmond Tutu stood for.
Even when it was not popular.
Even when people felt it wasn’t time.
We have stood up again and again for what we have felt is our mission to accept all people in love.
We have journeyed out at times into uncharted territory.
And most importantly, we have, by our love, by our compassion, by our acceptance of all, been a reflection of what the Church—capital C—is truly capable of.
We do all we do as St. Stephen and Archbishop Tutu did it—with our eyes firmly set on Christ, with our lips singing and praying, with our head held high, with love in heart, even if stones and rocks are falling around us.
We do so affirmed in our many ministries.
It is an amazing time to be at St. Stephen’s.
Those poor founders of our church would only be amazed at what this congregation they envisioned in 1956 would one day be.
As we begin another year of ministry, let us do with gratitude to God and one another in our hearts.
Let us shake off the negativity and those nagging doubts that may plague us.
And let us, like St. Stephen and Desmond Tutu, be strong and firm in our faith in God and our convictions of serving others in love.
And may our God—that source of all love, that author and giver of all good things—continue to bless us with love and goodness.
May we continue to flourish and grow.
And may we continue to venture bravely forward in all that we continue to do here among us and throughout the world.
Let us pray.
Holy God, when St. Stephen looked up, he saw you, seated in glory and majesty on your throne with Jesus your Son at your right hand of God; when Desmond Tutu spoke out against the powers of darkness that prevailed, he was sustained and strengthened by you; we are grateful for Stephen and Desmond and the vision they gave us of what awaits us in your Kingdom. Help us to embody their spirit of strength and vision as we do the ministry you call us to do in this world, and let us, like them, come to that heavenly Kingdom that you have allowed us to see today. We ask this in Jesus' holy Name. Amen.