Our readings from the Acts of the Apostles this week tell us one thing about the early church: it doesn’t evolve through human planning but from God’s plan. The disciples certainly didn’t expect Stephen.
The church was pretty settled in Jerusalem after Jesus rose from the dead, according to Acts. The followers of Jesus, good Jews, continued to worship in the temple. Yes, there were occasional squabbles with the Jewish leaders, but they worshipped and preached in Jerusalem. It was their world. Besides praying in the temple, they met together, probably on Mount Sion where the Last Supper was celebrated. They broke bread and prayed there.
They were mostly Galileans at first, then others joined them from elsewhere. One of them was Stephen.
Stephen was a new-comer. He may have been a Samaritan, which may explain his polemic against the Judaism of the day. The scriptures see him as one who follows Jesus in his passion. So many of his sufferings are like those Jesus endured. But he was also the cause of the first scattering of believers to other places. He was brash and undiplomatic. I would guess some of the Galileans didn’t like him.
Yes, he was a saint, but a hard-nosed saint.
He brought change, or better, God did.
Morning and evening prayers, 3rd week, here.