The Head of Laity, Samuel Kasenye said that the Church had for the first time in 109 years decided to celebrate their Patron's day (St. Stephen's Day) on the Sunday preceding Christmas because on 26th December very few people rarely attend services at the Church apart from those who come to baptise their children.
In his sermon based on forgiveness, the Parish priest Rev. Herbert Zziwa Ssalongo, said that the issue of martyrs is not a new phenomenon in Uganda because Uganda is a land of martyrs. He said that Stephen the first martyrs in Christianity was martyred because of his faith and love for Jesus. He went on to say that Stephen was filled with the power of Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
Rev. ZZiwa said that the power of Jesus Christ made Stephen to be a strong person. He said that as Stephen was being martyred he looked up to nothing but Jesus Christ which all Christians should look up to. He said that as he looked up to Jesus, he saw heaven open with Jesus on the right Hand of the Father waiting to receive him in glory.
Rev. Zziwa further said that the second reason as to why St. Stephen stood out from the crowd is that he taught us how to forgive. "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" he quoted Stephen.
He challenged Christians to always have a spirit of forgiveness in all their spheres of life. He said that we can't solve all problems unless our focus is on God the father who is the author and finisher of our faiths.
After the service, the three couples wed on that day were hosted to a reception at Zion Gardens Kabowa.
Some facts about Saint Stephen
Who Was Stephen?
Stephen was the first Christian martyr and one of the first deacons of the Christian Church. Saint Stephen was one of seven men selected and ordained by the Apostles to provide aid to the poor, elderly widows within the church community. St. Stephen was a gifted evangelist, respected for his preaching abilities.
The early life of St. Stephan is virtually unknown but his Greek name, Stephanos, suggests that he was a Hellinistic Jew. However, according to fifth century tradition, the name Stephanos was a Greek equivalent for the Aramaic Kelil and the name Kelil was inscribed on a slab found in St. Stephen’s tomb.
Saint Stephan ministered mostly to the Hellinistic converts, with whom the Apostles had difficulty speaking. St. Stephen was greatly admired for his oratorical skills and the Church had publicly acknowledged him as a man “of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and Wisdom” (Acts 6:3).
However, St. Stephen the witness, was not without opposition. The Libertines, the Cyrenians, the Alexandrians and those of Cilicia and Asia challenged St. Stephen to a dispute and were embarrassed by him. Prideful and full of hatred, they bore false witness upon St. Stephen, testifying that he had spoken words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.
Saint. Stephen was forced to stand before the Sanhedrin and endure false accusations. When St. Stephen spoke, he recited the mercies of God towards Israel and of Israel’s ungratefulness. The Jewish people were enraged by the words of St. Stephen and their fury was incensed when he accused them of murdering the Just One as the Prophets had foretold.
St. Stephen looked to heaven and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). At this, the enraged crowd ran violently upon him and cast him out of the city. Stephen was stoned to death but had cried out to the Lord to not condemn his enemies.
Stephen, whose name means “crown” was the first of Jesus’ disciples to receive the
martyr’s crown. His feast day is December 26th.
Additional information extracted from http://www.ststephen.webhero.com/