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” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
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. Matthew 28:19-20
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Eighteen
Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:18
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Every life will have its moments of discomfort, when nothing feels right. Maybe it’s been a bad day at work, or our kids are annoying us, or we’ve just had a fight with our spouse, or we’re just plain stressed out. In these moments, we all have something we go to for comfort. Some will do something wholesome like have a cup of tea and read a book. Others will go to ice cream. Others will overindulge in alcohol. Unfortunately, most of us have an “unhealthy” way to relieve stress.
The ultimate “comfort” is Christ. He is the go-to when everything seems like its going wrong. In fact, everything can go wrong and one can still feel comfortable, knowing that he or she still has Christ.
The Bible is a great source of comfort. We should read the Bible to learn about Jesus and to learn how to live a Christian life. There are also hundreds of passages that bring comfort when we read them, so another reason to read the Bible is to be able to “bank” passages for the time when we need some comfort.
Today’s verse from I Thessalonians 4:18 reminds us to comfort one another with words of scripture. This specific verse follows a teaching from St. Paul on death. In fact I Thessalonians 4:13-17 is the Epistle that is read at the Orthodox funeral service. We’ve already discussed how St. Paul doesn’t want Christians to be “ignorant concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13). He talks about how the Lord “will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep” (4:14) and how “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (4: 16-17) It’s a comfort to know that when we die, we will be with the Lord, and that our loved ones who have fallen asleep in faith are already with the Lord.
The Psalms are a great source of comfort. To know that the Lord is with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), those words paint an image of comfort and security. Psalm 145 says that “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,” (Psalm 145:18) This means that the Lord is especially close to us in the moments when we are uncomfortable and call out to Him. As we’ve discussed previously, read through the Psalms and write down which ones bring you a sense of comfort, and return to them in your times of stress.
Our comfort not only comes from the Scriptures. It comes from prayer. Prayer has always lessened my stress level. It has never increased it. The best stress relief is to cry out to God in prayer. And a great way gift we can give to friends who are stressed is to pray for them, and to pray with them.
Worship brings comfort. Even sitting in church when it is empty brings comfort. But a church filled with people brings a sense that we are all in this together, those whose lives are going well and those who are stressed out.
Service to others brings comfort as well. It is a natural stress reducer to give to someone else.
Most of all, because the church provides us direction and purpose, even when everything else is going wrong, if we are heading in the right spiritual direction, there is a great deal of comfort to be taken from that as well.
Remember Thy word to Thy servant, in which Thou has made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction that thy promise gives me life . Godless men utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from Thy law. When I think of Thy ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. Psalm 119: 49-52
When you need “comfort food” go to God!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
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.
Photo Credit: Beliefnet
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