From the editor: December 26, 2014
The Case of Boxing Day
We are taking "Boxing Day" literally this year and offering real boxes of Touchstone back issues to anyone who would like to gift their church, school, bookstore, library, or place of employment with free sample copies of a back issue. We have on hand boxes of 10 select back issues (from 2011-2014)—ca. 100-125 per box. We will happily ship you any boxes you select if you would only cover shipping & handling ($40—they are heavy). Just place your order here and we will ship you the box(es) you choose!
Of course, the traditional "Boxing Day" (the UK, Canada & beyond) is St. Stephen's Day (cf. "Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the ....") when provisions and gifts were given to the poor and, at later times, to household servants. Its source has been suggested in the Middle Ages when the collection in the local church's "poor box" was distributed then. (St. Wenceslaus in the song sends relief to a poor man he sees.) If correct, there is a happy coincidence between the "poor box" of Boxing Day and the service rendered to the poor by the early Church through the office of its deacons—think of Stephen and his service on behalf of the poor Jerusalem widows.
Had St. Stephen's feast day been established late in history, the day after Christmas would have been a poor choice to honor such a prominent martyr, since Christmas dominates the days (the Twelve Days) coming after it. This suggests that St. Stephen's commemoration on Dec. 26 has an ancient source. But it's hard to say. Perhaps, to take another view, the service to the poor on Dec. 26 suggested honoring the first deacon!
Stephen is the first Christian to follow unto death in the steps of the Christ Child, whose path took him from the Manger to the Cross. Stephen saw the Incarnate Lord, standing at the right hand of God, in a vision before his death. The One whom the Magi worshipped as a Child was now revealed to Stephen as the Lord of Hosts. It is this vision to which we must hold fast, and which Paul, who approved of the stoning of Stephen, came to embrace after his repentance for his crimes against Christ. Jesus forgives even his fierce enemy, Saul, who witnessed Stephen's prayer of forgiveness for those stoning him!
We at Touchstone are dedicated to this very Gospel of forgiveness and the Cross.
If you have been blessed by the work of the Fellowship, as part of your year-end gifts to charity (your version of Boxing Day?) please consider a donation to support its ministry—and perhaps procure a box of Touchstones to spread the wealth, so to speak, to others. We very much need your help, either way. Thank you!
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
—James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James