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.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20
There is no mistaking the military overtones that are part of the sacrament of Baptism. The word “warrior” is used, as well as “victorious.” We’ll close off the last few reflections on baptism using the analogy of joining the army, and how when we are baptized, it is in essence, joining God’s army of soldiers.
When one joins the military, he or she is sent to basic training. We’ll comment more on basic training in the last baptism reflection. When basic training is ended, each soldier is commissioned to do something. Some will be front line soldiers, and some will work behind the scenes are mechanics. Officers are commissioned. Some will leads groups of soldiers on the front lines. Some will travel to exotic locations. Some will be stationed at bases in our country. Some will sit behind desks and coordinate movements of troops that others will be leading on the ground. Some will wear the fatigues of battle while others will wear the formal dress uniform each day. Put the whole army together, however, and you have a unified force that is ready, in all of it various ways, to serve, to protect, to defend and to fight.
The soldiers in the army don’t fret about their role or their rank. Rather they obediently do “their job,” knowing that when everyone in the unit performs his or her role to the best of his or her ability, the army will move forward as one and will be victorious in battle.
Christ has commissioned each of us to have a different role in His army. By His Grace, I serve as a priest. It is my role. Some days I might wish I had a different role and on most days, I like my role. However, I try to have my focus be not only liking or disliking my role, but on doing my role as best as I can, recognizing that this is the commission that God has given me in his army.
I use this very personal example, and encourage you to take the word “priest” in the previous paragraph and insert whatever role you know that God has called you to play in His army. Maybe that commission is as a “mom” or as a “caregiver” or some other position that on a given day may not be so glamourous but is as equally important as my commission or as any other.
There are at least two opportunities that come with every “commission” given by God. In every commission there is an opportunity to serve the world, even if we are serving in obscurity, or serving only one other person. Our neighbor is anyone who resides next to us, which may be the baby in the crib down the hall, or the sick parent in the hospital bed. It may be the next customer in the store, or the next client in the office. Our service may be as a “flashy” as being a surgeon or as subtle as being an encourager. Both are of equal importance, because both have the power to change the world. So, don’t despair if you don’t necessarily like all aspects of your commission. Just fulfill it to the best of your ability.
The second opportunity that comes with every commission is the opportunity to glorify God and to advance the message of His Gospel. One does not have to be a priest in order to spread the Gospel, any more than one has to be a general in the army to defend our country. Everyone who puts on the military uniform, regardless of rank, is a protector and a defender. Everyone who puts on the “armor of God” is a defender, a protector and a spreader of the faith.
On the day one graduates from basic training in the military, he or she is excited to hear what his or her “commission” will be, understanding that whatever it is, they will have the opportunity to serve our country. At the end of their service, they will be called a veteran, no matter how they’ve served. And at the end of their lives, they will be buried with the same military honors, no matter what rank they’ve held.
We, too, should be excited to fulfill whatever commission God has chosen for us, knowing that each brings the opportunity to serve Him. At the end of our service, God will reward us equally, no matter what role we’ve serve in, based on how we have served Him, the effort we’ve given. And at the end of our lives, He will grant His faithful servants the same honor of salvation, no matter what “rank” we’ve held in His army.
[For the next several reflections, the customary “prayer” (which is usually a Psalm) is going to be replaced with a prayer from the Baptism service (all translated by Fr. Seraphim Dedes). When you offer this prayer, you can replace the “him (her)” with “I” and make it personal to yourself. In fact, I encourage you to pray the prayer each day in the first person, as a way of recommitting yourself to your baptism.]
He She) that has put on You, O Christ, with us bows his (her) head unto You; ever protect him (her) a warrior invincible against them who vainly raise up enmity against him (her), or, as might be, against us; and by Your Crown of Incorruption at the last declare us all to be the victorious ones. For Yours it is to have mercy and to save, and unto You, as to Your Eternal Father and Your All-Holy, Good, and Life-Creating Spirit, do we sent up all Glory, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prayer from the Sacrament of Baptism, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Fulfill your commission today!
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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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