Boxing Day | St Stephen’s Day
Welcome to the second day of Christmas, known throughout Commonwealth countries as Boxing Day. Although the origins of this medieval term remain unknown, it appears to relate to the collection of money in church alms boxes for the poor (such as Good King Wenceslas of Bohemia who ventured forth in the snow with alms for the poor), and the giving of presents to ones servants and tradespeople. This is, perhaps, unsurprising, given the ecclesiastical connotations of the day. For December 26 is St Stephen’s Day, appointed among the first deacons to distribute food to widows. Yesterday we celebrated the incarnation of God’s Son; today we remember the proto-martyr, the first to die for bearing witness to him.
For Australians, today is a day for sport. The battle taking place on a pitch in Melbourne and yacht’s travail against the waves form the ambient noise as we dine on yesterday’s leftovers with friends and kin, whilst the brave soul ventures out to compete for a bargain in the Boxing Day sales. At it’s best, when the sun is shinning, Boxing Day reminds us that the world is “charged with the grandeur of God”.
But St. Stephen’s Day stops us from falling into complacency; it reminds us that the light has shone in darkness, that God’s beautiful gift of creation has been grasped as a possession. The resources we’ve gathered together for today recall the beauty of God coming to dwell with us, and help us remember the cost of following this child, the Lord of the cosmos who was persecuted right from the beginning.