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
For God so loved the World, that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:1
And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. John 17:5
Good morning Prayer Team!
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen
O only Begotten Son and Word of God, being immortal and condescended for our salvation to be incarnate from the Holy Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary and unchangeably became man; and was crucified Christ our God and trampled down death by death; as One, of the Holy Trinity worshipped with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Save us.
This hymn is probably the MOST important hymn of the Divine Liturgy (along with “We have seen the True Light” which is right after Holy Communion). This is certainly the most theological of the hymns of the service. (Unfortunately, in most parishes, this hymn is sung in Greek so we don’t get to appreciate the richness of the theology—that will be changing very soon in Tampa, by the way). This hymn explains the nature of Jesus Christ to the rest of the Holy Trinity. It identifies God as Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It identifies Jesus Christ by the many “names” ascribed to Him: Only Begotten Son, Word of God, Christ our God.
The essence of our salvation is the Christ, the Word of God, became incarnate as a man through the Virgin Mary, yet He remained God. John 1:1, which I have quoted above, says that “In the Beginning was the Word (referring to Jesus Christ as being pre-eternal with the Father and the Spirit and being part of the creation) and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God.” In John 17:5, (among other places) this is again restated, as Christ asks His Father, to “glorify Thou Me with thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” Again, the pre-eternal Christ existing forever with the Father and the Spirit.
Through the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became a human being, and was crucified and trampled down death by death. This is why we worship Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit. John 3:16 sums up the entire New Testament: “For God so loved the World, that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” And this hymn really summarizes the Divine Liturgy—we gather to partake of the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Christ, because our salvation comes through Him. Hence the last phrase of the hymn: Save us.
The concept of the Holy Trinity is perhaps the most complex Christian concept to understand. This hymn does so in a succinct way. If you learn to sing this hymn, you will have the story of salvation easily available to sing and review often.
Lord our God, thank You for dying for us and opening the path for salvation to us. Help me to better understand not only Your will for my life but also for me to understand how Your Incarnation and Resurrection have changed and can change the world. Help me to be a good student of Christianity, so that I can be a good Apostle and show a good example to others of my Christian faith. Amen.
Have a great day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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