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
So those who are engaged in the work labored, and the repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it. 2 Chronicles 24:13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Continuing our discussion on the word “Engaged,” the title of our series, the second definition that comes to mind when we hear the word “engaged” means “to be involved.” If I am engaged in an activity, it means that I am involved or occupied in that activity. I suppose it is important to define the word “involved.” For instance, I could be in a room where the TV is on but not be engaged in watching it. Using the TV example, to be engaged in watching TV means to be involved specifically in TV watching, not merely in a room where the TV is on.
To be engaged in the life of Christ means to be involved. To be engaged is not merely to hang up a few icons, have a Bible on the shelf and wear a cross. To be “engaged” in the life of Christ means that we are praying in front of those icons, reading that Bible and acting like a Christian when wearing our cross, and when we aren’t wearing it as well. The goal in becoming an “engaged” Christian is that we are involved in the life of Christ—praying, learning, worshipping (weekly), loving our neighbor through acts of kindness and charity—on a daily basis. It becomes first a goal, then a habit, and finally a lifestyle. We live the life of Christ.
To be engaged in the life of the church also means to be involved. One can be “active” in church but not engaged. For instance, a person could hypothetically attend church each Sunday but sleep through the service, or check email during the sermon. A person can also come to church every Sunday but not interact with anyone in the community, or participate in any of the ministries of the church. The Christian who is engaged in the life of the church participates in worship—prays, sings, etc. Worship is an activity, an act of work, not of being a spectator. The Christian who is engaged in the life of the community contributes to the well-being of the community by being a good steward. They contribute talent to the ministries of the community—they join the choir, or teach Sunday school, or serve on the Parish Council, or take pictures, or visit the sick, or a myriad of other things that churches need in order to function. If the work of the church is to make disciples, a topic we will be exploring in depth, then the engaged Christian also takes a role in spreading the message, not only inside the church community, but outside of it as well.
Reflecting quickly on today’s Bible verse, this verse refers to the repairing of the Temple. It reminds us that those who are engaged in the work are laborers, not observers. And in being engaged, in laboring, “they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.” We live at a time when the church and Christianity are not thriving in many pockets of our country and our world. In order to reverse this trend, it is up to us to be engaged in the work of the church, in the life of Christ, so that we can restore the house of God, the church, to its proper condition, where the message of Christ is spread and not stifled, and strengthen it to be what Christ intended for it to be. Growing.
A good daily check for ourselves is “was I involved in some way today in the life of Christ?” Not merely by wearing a cross, but by praying, scripture reading, loving God and loving our neighbor. And a good weekly check for ourselves is “was I involved in some way in the life of the church?” Not merely in attending, but in worship, in ministry, and in spreading the Gospel. On this last one, spreading the Gospel, don’t worry if you aren’t doing that yet. In this series we’ll go into more detail about how we can each do that.
Lord, thank You for the gift of today. Thank You for the possibilities that it will hold. Help me to glorify You in some way today. Help me to see opportunities to love my neighbor. Strengthen my relationship with You through my prayers. Help me to understand and apply Scripture. Help me to better understand what it means to not only be engaged in a life of faith, but in the life of the church as well. Amen.
Be involved in some way today in the life of Christ. Be involved in some way this week in the life of the church.
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: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
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