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.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
But now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13
Good morning Prayer Team!
Forgive me up front, I’m starting off with a sport analogy. On a football team, it must be a great feeling for the quarterback to break the huddle knowing that each teammate knows his assignment for the next play. He can throw the ball to an open spot on the field trusting that his receiver will be there when the ball gets there. What joy a quarterback must have when his team is in sync like this.
On the other side, it must be a lonely and stressful feeling if the players break the huddle and the quarterback is not sure they know their assignments. He won’t feel confident throwing the ball to that empty spot because he won’t know if his receiver will be there or not.
The Bible verse for today’s message was a prayer offered by Jesus over His Disciples right before His Passion. In the prayer, He prayed for them to have joy, the same kind of joy that He shared within the Holy Trinity, the same kind of joy one has when he is in sync with God or with other people.
When we are in sync with others, and others are in sync with us, we become the confident quarterback of our lives. When others are not in sync with us, we have that lonely and foreboding feeling of the quarterback who doesn’t know what his players are going to do. There are some people who work hard to be unifiers, and sadly, I believe there are many people who actually take joy in being dividers, and probably others who don’t realize they are dividers. They divide without thinking. Spend a few moments reflecting on which one you are—a divider or a unifier. If you are the quarterback, do you feel that your players are in sync with you or not? And if you are not the quarterback, if you are one of the players who is a receiver or a lineman, do you know your role, and do you fulfill it? Is there trust between you and the quarterbacks in your life? Is there joy on your “teams”?
God does not only want us to be in sync with one another. He wants us to be in sync with Him, that we can have His joy fulfilled in us. Have you ever given thought to the idea of being in sync with God? Many of us fear God. Others go to Him out of obligation—we feel we owe Him His due. Some feel unworthy to be “in sync” with Him, like who are we to be in sync with Him? Yet, in His prayer, He asks for us to have the joy of the Trinity, the perfect oneness experienced between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to be extended to us, that we might feel a sense of oneness with God.
Today’s thought is to focus on “being” with God. When you pray today, don’t focus so much on the words you say, but rather focus on “being” in the presence of God, of having your mind in sync with thoughts of God, and with the thoughts that God has for you and those around you. Fill your mind with thoughts of love, forgiveness and encouragement, about your life and about the lives of those you will encounter today. In syncing up your thoughts with God’s thoughts, you will find joy. If you are cynically asking “how can we know the thoughts of God?” The answers are found in scripture. For instance, what brings God joy? One sinner who repents over ninety nine who never went astray. (Luke 15: 1-7) This brings joy to God. If you look for the lost sheep and steer him or her back to the Lord, you will bring God joy, and you can share in that joy.
Jesus tells us about the perfect oneness enjoyed by the Holy Trinity. This joy, He tells us, is accessible to us when we strive to be in sync with one another and with Him. Matthew 18:20 reminds us that where two or three are gathered in His name, meaning that two or three are in sync with one another, and striving to be in sync with Him, there He stands in the midst of them. This is where He is in sync with us.
Lord, thank You for the many things in my life that bring me joy (list some of them). Help me to perfect my joy by getting myself more in sync with You and those around me. Help me to grow in my faith and to do so joyfully, so that I can grow ever closer to You. May I experience joy in my faith and may I share that joy with others. Amen.
Get in sync with those around you today and you will find not only human joy, but Godly joy. Get your thoughts in sync with God’s thoughts and you will have His joy fulfilled in you!
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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