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.
Goal-Setting for 2018
And they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took Bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said “This is My Body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as your drink It, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this Bread and drink the Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. I Corinthians 11: 23-26
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Good morning Prayer Team!
The most important thing that happens in the life of the church is the Eucharist. That is why the central ministry of the Orthodox Church is the Divine Liturgy. Why? Because it is through the Eucharist that we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” The Eucharist gives us sustenance in order to make it through life. It allows us to become physically one with Christ. It allows us to experience the Kingdom of God in the present. So that it is not a far off journey, because long journeys can become discouraging. Rather it is a present reality and a present joy. The Divine Liturgy is where we practice being in the presence of the Divine God. We all know that the more we practice something the better we get at it. The more often we worship, the greater sustained we are in our Christian walk. The more we commune, the more we focus on receiving Christ in Communion, the more Christ centered we become in our lives.
Receiving Communion, the entire process of it, makes me a more focused Christian. It’s no wonder that the week of the year I feel closest to Christ is Holy Week, when I partake of Him every day. People have asked me why I continue to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on so many weekday feast days when so few people attend. The answer is two-fold—There is a tradition of honoring certain saints and feastdays with a Divine Liturgy. And most importantly, I celebrate them for personal reasons. I need to be in church. I love the opportunity to receive Christ in the Eucharist often.
Do we experience something profound at each Divine Liturgy? I can honestly say that I don’t. You may be surprised to hear that. Some Liturgies leave me very much in awe. Others are very much a routine. Here’s how I reconcile this. If one goes to work out at the gym and is really into it, there is a benefit. If one does the same workout without as much enthusiasm, there is still benefit.
So, each time I celebrate the Liturgy, I take a spiritual benefit away. I’ve never celebrated the Liturgy and felt worse for doing so. I ALWAYS take something positive away. So, in setting spiritual goals for yourself for 2018, there needs to be a goal about your frequency of worship, specifically receiving Communion. The operative word on receiving Communion is “often”—“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”, or as we pray in the Liturgy of St. Basil, “For as often as you each this Bread and drink this Cup, you do proclaim My (the Lord’s) death and confess My Resurrection.” As often as we receive, we recommit and renew ourselves.
The goal in receiving Communion, however, is not just to go as often as possible, but to go with a sense of preparation—a regular prayer life, reading of Scripture, moral living, reconciliation and repentance (Sacrament of confession), worship and fasting all figure into our preparation. So as you set a goal for 2018 for Worship and the Eucharist, write down some related goals on how you will prepare yourself to receive often.
How lovely is Thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at Thy altar, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Thy house, ever singing Thy praise! Blessed are the men whose strength is in Thee, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God; look upon the face of Thine anointed! For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; He bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in thee! Psalm 84
Write down some goals for worship and the Eucharist, as well as appropriate preparation for 2018!
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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