Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Now the day began to wear away; and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, to go into the villages and country round about, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Luke 9:12-14
This past Sunday, on the Prayer Team and in Orthodox Churches around the world, we heard the story of the miracle of how five loaves and two fish fed five thousand men, plus women and children. If the average family has 3.24 people in it, that miracle might have fed as many as 16,000 people. Imagine five loaves and two fish feeding 16,000 people, that’s 3,200 people eating off a loaf of bread and 8,000 people splitting up a fish. That’s is ridiculous! How could that happen! And to top it all off, there were 12 “kofinas” (the Greek word for “coffin”—think expensive huge burial container from ancient Egypt) of left overs. That’s a LOT of food left over.
Now imagine being one of the disciples when Jesus suggested feeding the large crowd. Imagine what it would have been like to canvas that crowd, asking for some food. Imagine what it must have been like in the crowd, if you had one of those precious loaves set aside for yourself or your family and now you were being asked to give some food for the masses. Give up what you have and risk going hungry. One miracle was that anyone chanced sharing their meager food with a large crowd. That was a miracle in itself!
As we look around the landscape of our country, at the daily violence that we read about in our newspapers, we might wonder “what can I possibly do to change any of this?” What if I suggested that we had the power to put a dent in the violence around us? You’d probably wonder if I’m either off my rocker or about to make a political statement. I’m assuring you, it’s neither.
I strongly believe that a lot of the violence in society today is due to anger. Anger stems from isolation and discouragement. The more isolated and discouraged someone feels, the more angry they are likely to become. The more angry they become, the most likely they are to lash out in unhealthy and even dangerous ways. If everyone reading this message (a) did one of the things listed below every day, and (b) passed this message on to others, and (c) did these things under the umbrella of God and prayer, we actually could change the world. Just like five loaves fed 16,000 thousand, a few hundred people who committed to doing what is listed below could change a few hundred thousand people. It’s actually possible.
Below are 30 suggestions that were given in church last Sunday as part of the sermon on what can we offer the world. Pick one suggestion a day, or even one a week and focus on that. Choose a different one tomorrow or next week. If everyone does even one of these to one person a day, you’ll be amazed at what could happen. So here they are:
- Give someone a compliment
- Offer Christian forgiveness
- Smile to people you encounter
- Give love
- Be kind to people
- Help someone in need
- Share a meal with someone
- Call/text someone at random to see how they are doing
- Thank people
- Lead by example
- Don’t annoy people
- Be mindful of how you are feeling
- Be mindful of how others are feeling
- No road rage
- Send short texts of encouragement to people
- Adjust your own attitude
- Be there for people when they need it
- Give someone a compliment
- Abstain from social media
- Have compassion
- Put others first
- Seek out someone who needs help
- Ask how someone is doing and actually listen to the answer
- Recognize that everyone is battling something
- Be patient
- Be encouraging
- Give positive feedback when you like something
Here is the amazing thing about everything on this list—most of them will cost you little time and no money. They are just about all easy things that we can do with a little bit of intentionality. So, go make a difference. What is stopping you?
Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for He is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, He gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the downtrodden, He casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God upon the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds, He prepares rain for the earth, He makes grass grow upon the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens which cry. His delight is not the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates; He blesses your sons within you. He makes peace in your borders; He fills you with the finest of the wheat. HE sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He casts forth Hi ice like morsels; who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word, and melts them; He makes His wind blow, and the waters flow. He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know His ordinances. Praise the Lord! Psalm 147
Think you can’t make a difference? Think again. We all can! Do one of the things on this list today.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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