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.
The Five Feasts of the Virgin Mary
Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; and the king will desire your beauty. Since He is your Lord, bow to Him; the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the King. Psalm 45:10-15
Good morning Prayer Team!
As we continue to prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, this week we will reflect on her five great feast days. Today we reflect on the feast of her Entrance into the Temple, which is celebrated on November 21. This feast commemorates an event that took place in her life when she was either two or three, when her parents, Joachim and Anna, gave her to the temple to be raised there. They did not live long after this, as we know they were both elderly. In order for her to prepare for her very important role, God led her to the temple to pray and to learn about Him. Of course, when she entered the temple, she did not know that her role was to bear God’s Son. She would find out about that when her preparation in the temple was over.
The lesson in today’s reflection is that in order to answer God’s call for our lives, in order to serve Him, it requires devoted preparation. One of the “drawbacks” if you will to being an Orthodox Christian, is that we are baptized, Chrismated (or Confirmed) and begin receiving Holy Communion from infancy. Unlike other churches that wait until one is older for first Holy Communion and make one take a catechism class in order to be confirmed, there is never a requirement that one must take a class, read a book, learn a thing, or make a statement that they want to belong to the church. Many families rely solely on Sunday School for a child’s religious formation. The Bible is not read in most homes. It’s no wonder that many people get to college and while leaving home for the first time, also leave the church. Because they haven’t established a faith that is personal.
The word “devotion” means to be “committed to something.” Christians use the word “devotionals” to describe books, courses of study or prayers, that are used in order to make one more “devoted” (committed) to the Christian faith. It is imperative that each Christian makes time each day for a private devotional. This should include private prayer and reading of Scripture. At least once a week there should be communal worship. At least once a year there should be private consultation in the form of confession with a priest, to make sure each person is on track with their spiritual lives, that they remain devoted to the faith. A person who is praying daily and reading the Scriptures daily, a person who is worshipping weekly and going to confession once or twice each year, this person is going to live a life of devotion to the Christian faith. When these things break down—when we stop praying, worshipping, and being accountable for our action, this is when those actions can turn away from Christ, when our devotion to the faith can wane.
The Christian faith is a life of love of God and service to others. We will discuss service in tomorrow’s reflection. For today, however, the point is that love of God is kindled through daily spiritual devotion, weekly worship, and yearly confession. These prepare us to serve. Remove these things and we will not be as ready to serve.
The Entrance of the Virgin Mary is probably the feast of hers that garners the least attention. Yet without entering the Temple to learn and be committed, should could not have been ready for her life of service to God and to others. It is the same with us. Service and love begin with devotion, which leads to commitment, which leads to love which is manifested in service. No, we are not likely to be dropped off at the temple at a young age and left there. But we should be going to the church from a young age, and taking our children as well, in order to learn and prepare, so that we can live a lifetime of service.
Today is the prelude of Godʹs good pleasure, and the proclamation of humanityʹs salvation. In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, and in herself she announces Christ to all. Let us, then, with a great voice cry aloud to her: “Rejoice, you are the fulfillment of the Creatorʹs dispensation.” (Apolytikion of the Entrance of the Theotokos, Fourth Tone, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Make sure you dedicate a few minutes to a daily devotional of prayer and Scripture reading!
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.
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