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.”
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today we mark two events in the life of the church. First today is the beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year. While the first day of the calendar year is January 1, the first day of the Ecclesiastical (Church) Year is September 1. Having January 1 as the beginning of the calendar year is actually not very old. September 1 was designated as the beginning of the YEAR (Calendar and Church) for many centuries. That is because the summer was ending, the harvest was completed and it was time to prepare the fields for winter and start the farming cycle again.
Symbolically, it works the same way in the church year-We start the cycle of the year with the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, feasts of the Prophets, then work our way to Christmas, Lent and Pascha, Pentecost, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church and of all Christians. Now the cycle is ready to repeat itself-it is time to plant the fields, spread the seeds, then we fertilize and grow the seeds, harvest the souls and now we have more souls hopefully ready to plant the next harvest. Today, symbolically, is the beginning of that process again, though any day can be a good day to begin that process.
The second event we mark today is the day of the Environment. Our Ecumenical Patriarch has declared September 1 the day of the Environment. As we make our new start to the new year, today’s verse takes us back to the very beginning of the Bible, that in the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. He created the environment that we enjoy. He created air, water, trees, the breeze, the temperature, the stars, the clouds and so many other things. He set the human being as the master of the creation, told us we could have dominion over everything. And what have we done with our stewardship of His creation-we have polluted the air, polluted the water, used natural resources irresponsibly and wastefully. Today is a day to recommit ourselves to the preservation of the environment, to good stewardship of natural resources.
As we commemorate today, I’m not suggesting a rally or a protest, but rather a personal, private and introspective look at YOUR (and at my) stewardship of the environment. We can probably all do a better job of conserving water. If we all cut one minute off of our showers, we’ve probably made a 10% reduction in water usage right there. There is really no excuse to ever litter. And if each person picked up one piece of trash per day, we could quickly clean up our environment. If we each focus on recycling paper and plastic by putting them in the recycle receptacles instead of the regular trash can, we’d all make a dent in conserving precious natural resources. Today’s prayer is one for our environment and our stewardship of it. In the beginning God created everything. And He created each of us. Our stewardship, whether it be of our talents or our environment, is our way of honoring and thanking Him. Our preservation of our environment is our way of not only preserving it for the generations to come, but to thank Him for creating it for us and for creating us to live in it.
Lord our God, thank You for creating our environment. Thank You for creating us and allowing us to have dominion over our world. Bless and inspire us to be good stewards of the environment You created for us. Help us to be responsible and careful in our use of natural resources. Inspire us to conserve. Help us to be thankful for all that You created for us. Help us to enjoy the ocean, the mountains, the fields and the stars. Thank You for the sun that shines on earth, providing warmth and promoting growth. Thank You most of all for the gift of Your Son, who has provided for us the path to salvation. Please help me today to reflect His Light, to be His vessel of warmth and love to all those who I encounter. Amen.
Happy New (Church) Year!