STRANGE BLESSING: The Feast of St. Stephen

December 26, 2019

Happy feast of St. Stephen!

When I wrote the song “Strange Blessing” this past summer, it didn’t occur to me that it might have a place in the Advent/Christmas season. I was simply inspired to write it having just read a sermon that the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote and circulated in 1938 encouraging Christians to resist, at the cost of suffering, the German church’s growing allegiance to the Third Reich.

“In the church today,” he wrote, “we know much too little about the strange blessing of bearing something… Whoever avoids affliction discards along with that God’s greatest gift for his creatures.”

Only yesterday did it occur to me that this song, which parallels maternity with martyrdom, suited today’s feast which recalls the church’s first martyr, St. Stephen, whose sufferings in defence of a gospel oriented toward the poor and marginalised gave witness (birth) to a radically different way of being in this world.

music and lyrics by Steve Bell

The peace of God is with the patient ones
Bearing up under affliction
For the joy that Love has promised us
Though waves of agony wash over us
May we know
What mothers know
The strange blessing of bearing

Quietude becomes the lover
Oriented towards the other
Sufferings gladly enduring
For the sake of another’s flourishing
May we know
What martyrs know
The beautiful blessing of bearing

God, we pray that in the days to come
Ever keep before our longing
The mystery of your bleeding son
Through the night into the dawning

Love enwombed in God’s creation
Fortifies the soul’s elation
Hearts on fire to love attending
Tribulations notwithstanding
May we know
What Jesus knows
The glorious blessing of bearing

One thought on “STRANGE BLESSING: The Feast of St. Stephen

  1. Amazing message Steve. And yes how we do try to avoid affliction. Thank you for your message this day.

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