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 Ten
As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. I Peter 4: 10-11
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
We have previously discussed the subject of grace. My favorite definition comes from the service of ordination of a priest (or deacon or bishop): “The Divine Grace that heals what is infirm and completes that which is lacking. . .” Grace, then, is the divine gift that make what is infirm whole, and that which is incomplete to be full. In other words, grace is what makes ordinary to be extraordinary.
Grace is what makes ordinary substances of bread and wine become the extraordinary Body and Blood of Christ.
Grace takes an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and consecrates their union into a family.
Grace allows an ordinary man to stand at the altar and be ordained as a priest.
Grace allows an ordinary sinner to feel forgiven and restored in the sacrament of confession.
Grace is what allows us to find extraordinary solutions to ordinary problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt lost or incomplete because I had a challenge and didn’t know what to do about it. Many times I have prayed, and then had this “feeling” come over me that either provided me with the answer or comfort knowing I could face the challenge. This “feeling” is God’s grace.
Sometimes grace helps us to forget things. When I hear a confession, as an example, I don’t remember anything that I hear. A priest once told me “the same grace that comes upon you to wipe out your sins comes down on me to wipe my memory of them.” This not only applies to confession but to other traumatic things. If we had vivid memories of all of our tough moments, we would all crumble from sadness probably. Grace is what allows us to move past tough times, forgive hurts, and restore relationships.
“Grace” is a powerful thing. We don’t treat grace appropriately. Either we throw it around carelessly, or we don’t know what grace is or know its power. Once we understand what grace is, it can become a powerful force in our lives. Grace is what allows us to change. It enables us to change.
This next paragraph is intentionally written in the first person. It is not about ME, but about each of us. It is written that way in the hopes that you’ll read it in a personal way.
I can change. Grace gives me the power to change. The message of the Gospel is that I can change. I can repent. I can give my life to Christ. I can overcome sin. I can forgive someone I hate. I can overcome addiction. Grace is not just a “try harder” concept but real power. Grace can complete what is lacking in me. Grace can heal the infirmities of my soul. There is a perpetual conflict between who I am and who I want to be. I can’t solve that conflict on my own, but God’s grace allows for that to happen. I have access to that grace!
In Greek, there are three words that are related—“Hara” (Joy), “Efharistia” (Thanksgiving) and “Haris” (Grace). One of the ways to unlock the power of grace in our lives is to focus on joy and thanksgiving. The simplest way to unlock the power of grace is simply to pray. For an ordinary person to talk to our “extraordinary” Lord.
Lord, may I always be mindful of Your grace and no longer live for myself, but for You, our Master and Benefactor. May I pass from this life in the hope of eternal life, and attain to the everlasting rest, where the voices of Your Saints, who feast unceasing, and their joy, beholding the ineffable beauty of Your countenance, is unending. For You, Christ our God, are the true joy and gladness of those who love You, and all creation praises You forever. Amen. (Post-Communion Prayers, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Trans. by Holy Cross Seminary Press, 1985)
Grace is always a prayer away. Seek to unlock the power of God’s grace and enjoy it in your life each day!
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: National Monitor
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