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 Three
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let Him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7: 37-39
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
The Greek word for the “Gospel” is “Evangelion”. The most correct translation for “Evangelion” is “the good news.” (The Feast of the Annunciation is called “Evangelismos”because it is the announcing of the “Good News” to the Virgin Mary that she is to bear the Christ.) The words of the Holy Gospel indeed are “good news”, the best news, because the message of the Gospel conveys Christ, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, hope, joy, and so many other pieces of good news.
As Christians, do we convey a message of good news, or ordinary news? In many corners, we’ve made the Gospel “ordinary” or “pedestrian.” Christianity is something many of us see as a chore, rather than an identity. Christianity has become something we do, an obligation, a box to check, rather than a joy, a way of life, a way we define ourselves. And this is truly unfortunate, and most definitely not God’s intention. In recognizing and living out a call to be Disciples of Christ, we all need to do a better job in conveying the good news.
In telling the story of Christ, we many times do just that, we tell the story. One of the stories I remember from childhood is the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” The arrogant hare challenges a tortoise to a race. He get out in front, then takes a nap, only to be beaten by the tortoise. The message is that “slow and steady wins the race.” The story of salvation has as its message—THIS can change your life, for eternity, as well as in the present. This story of GREAT news is not just a fairy tale, but the greatest story ever told. For this story, unlike any other, has changed the course of the human history and has the power the change the course of any life.
The first miracle that Jesus ever did is recounted in John 2: 1-11, the changing of water into wine at the wedding of Cana. Jesus took ordinary water and made it a richer substance, wine, with His blessing. The same idea of ordinary become extraordinary can be ascribed to people who come to really know Christ—they go from ordinary to extraordinary. Unfortunately, we’ve taken the miracle of Cana and reversed it. We’ve taken the extraordinary news of Christianity and made it ordinary once again. We’ve somehow managed to make Christ ordinary, even boring. We’ve made the person who never bored anyone to be boring. This is the complaint of many young people—and probably a lot of old people too—that Jesus is boring and not interesting. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People who hung around Jesus were prostitutes and tax collectors who satisfied themselves with money and sex (in other words, living for yourself) and they weren’t satisfied and hungered for more. These tax collectors and prostitutes were people who were looking to satisfy desires, they had a hunger for something, and what they were doing wasn’t satisfying their hunger. They encountered Jesus and realized “THIS is what I’m looking for.” The experience changed them. The overly religious didn’t go to Jesus. They weren’t looking for change. They were satisfied.
There are two things to take away from today’s reflection. The first is, don’t be satisfied with ordinary. If your life is humdrum, you have the power to change that, by allowing Christ to be at work in your life. Christ can make ordinary extraordinary. The second is that Christ can’t work in a life where we are totally satisfied. So ask yourself “What is really missing in my life?” And after you evaluate the usual answers—I wish I had more money, or a better marriage, or a bigger house, etc.—seriously reflect on whether it’s really these things you want, or more faith, trust, hope, reassurance, and the other things that come from Christ and only from Him.
O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, tell of all His wonderful works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and His strength, seek his presence continually! Remember the wonderful works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered, O offspring of Abraham His servant, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our god; His judgments are in all the earth. He is mindful of His covenant forever. Psalm 105: 1-8
Work to live an extraordinary Christianity, and let the extraordinary news of the Gospel elevate the ordinary pieces of your life.
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: Devotionals for Women
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