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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statues of the Lord. Deuteronomy 10:12-13
In the Greek Orthodox Church, the service of Orthros usually precedes the Divine Liturgy. The Orthros service largely consists of hymns about the saint of the day (or on Sundays, about the Resurrection). Intermixed with this, there are also Psalm readings. The priest offers a few sets of petitions, but generally is not in front of the Altar table. He is preparing the Gifts for the Divine Liturgy. There is not a whole lot of “action” during the Orthros.
That changes during the Divine Liturgy, where the priest is almost always in front of the Altar table, where there are more petitions than hymns, and where there are a lot of liturgical actions.
When the Divine Liturgy is served by a priest and a deacon, or by a bishop and a priest, the Divine Liturgy actually commences with a prompt given by the deacon to the priest or by the priest to the bishop.
Kairos tou piise to Kyrio, Despota Agie Evloyison. It is time to serve the Lord, Master give the blessing.
The celebrant then responds with the words:
Blessed is our God, always now and forever and to the ages of ages. May the Lord guide your steps to every good work.
I had the great blessing as a deacon to serve His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. And I have had the privilege in the Metropolis of Atlanta to serve with His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, as well as other hierarchs who have visited our parish. From the time I was a deacon, until present, I love offering this line of the service.
When the choir is singing the Doxology, the clergy are lined up at the bishop’s throne. I remember from my days as a deacon, listening to the Doxology, waiting for the moment to come where the Divine Liturgy would spring into action with this prompt: It is time to serve the Lord. At that moment, I would turn toward the Metropolitan, say this prompt with humility (bowed head) and conviction (loud enough for him and other clergy to hear) and then the Divine Liturgy would commence.
This is the last reflection in this series. It has been a long journey and I hope it has been a rewarding one for you. I hope this work will help you understand that each of us has a role to play in serving the Lord and carrying out the Great Commission. It is not just the priests who have this responsibility and privilege. It is everyone.
Our lives are actually a lot like the progression from the Orthros to the Divine Liturgy that I have described above. In order to be an apostle, one has to first be a disciple. Just like to have the full experience of the Divine Liturgy, it is helpful to go to the Orthros and just listen. Then when the Divine Liturgy commences, it is time to stand up and sing and participate. After our period of learning, it is time to stand up and serve, to go out and proclaim the message, to go and serve the Lord.
Each of us, in his own time, has to muster the humility and the confidence to give that command, to ourselves: It is time to serve the Lord.
Ideally, we should begin each day with this prompt to ourselves: It is time to serve the Lord, Master give the blessing. No, we are not going to ask a bishop to bless us every day. No, most of us will never have the opportunity to stand at the bishop’s throne and offer this prompt to begin a Divine Liturgy. However, every day we wake up is another opportunity to serve and glorify Christ. Every day is a time to serve the Lord. And every day, we should as our “Master” (the Lord) to bless us and guide us.
If today is not a time to serve the Lord, when will it be a proper day to do so? If today is not a time to serve the Lord, why isn’t it? If we lack knowledge of how to serve the Lord, then today is a great day to get some, to become a better disciple. And if we have knowledge of how to serve the Lord, then today is a great day to share it, to become a better apostle.
What a great way it would be to start each day is we all stood before an icon of Christ, even for a few seconds, bowed our heads, and said, with humility and conviction: It is time to serve the Lord, Master give the blessing. Put the whole day under His umbrella. Do this each day, and our whole life goes under His umbrella.
Someone asked me once what motivates me to write every day. And I answered “One day I’m going to die, and I want to tell the Lord I gave my best to get His message to as many people as possible.” It doesn’t matter to me (or to Him) how many people actually read these messages. It matters how many of them I write. Because God rewards effort, not success. He knows our intentions, and to Him these are more important than results. Thank you for reading what I have written. (A new unit will begin next week) I hope by His grace that you are motivated to become better disciples and ultimately better apostles. Because our Lord didn’t tell us to learn about Him and keep it to ourselves. He told us to take the message to all the nations, to change the world, and to bring the world to Him and Him to the world. Every one of us is capable of bringing Him to our corner of the world.
Deal with Thy servant according to Thy steadfast love, and teach me Thy statutes. I am Thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies! It is time for the Lord to act, for thy law has been broken. Therefore I love thy commandment above gold, above fine gold. Therefore I direct my steps by all Thy precepts; I hate every false way. Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keep them. Psalm 119 124-128
It is time to serve the Lord, Master give the blessing.
May the Lord guide your steps to every good work!
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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