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.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
Holy Communion—Part Two
But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. John bore witness to Him, and cried, “This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, for He was before me.” And from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. John 1: 12-16
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of my “pet peeves” is when our people talk about “taking Communion.” I’m not sure where this phrase originated. Holy Communion is not ours for the taking. We receive Communion. This may not seem like a big deal, maybe you are thinking, it’s just semantics. In this case, however, a change of word causes a change in meaning.
We “take” things with a sense of entitlement. After working hard all year, we take a vacation. We’ve earned it. When you take something with entitlement, you aren’t always grateful about it. We are grateful for unexpected gifts. We feel as if we have a right to the things we are entitled to.
We receive Holy Communion as a gift. A gift which no one is entitled to. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or how good we are, there is never a day when we can or should walk into church with our head held high and say “I think I’ll go take Communion, I earned it.” Holy Communion is a gift we “receive” every time we partake in it. And if we are receiving Holy Communion as a gift, then we should receive with gratitude, rather than entitlement.
When someone gives us a gift for our birthday, or even more so, when they give us a gift unexpectedly, we receive it with gratitude. We probably will look for an opportunity to do something nice for them. No one receives a gift and hurls insults at the giver, or take the gift and destroys it. Since the Lord is the giver of Communion, when He gives us this gift, we are supposed to receive it with gratitude and honor the giver. When we leave church and just resume our secular life, if by Sunday afternoon we are gossiping and swearing and wantonly sinning, then we are not honoring the Lord, the giver of the gift.
When we are invited to receive Communion, it is with the words “With the fear of God, with faith and with love draw near.” We are supposed to draw near with respect and awe, with faith and with love. And we are supposed to walk away from our encounter with the Lord with gratitude. We are supposed to be changed for the better because of the experience. So approach for Holy Communion, but don’t approach to “take” but to “receive.” And then depart with “gratitude” and let your gratitude shape your life for the rest of the day, the rest of the week, until you are able to come and “receive” again.
O Son of God, receive me today as a partaker of Your mystical supper. For I will not speak of the myster to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss, as did Judas. But like the thief, I confess to You: Remember me, Lord, in Your Kingdom. (From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Trans. Holy Cross Seminary Press, 2015)
Receive Holy Communion with gratitude!
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: Pravmir
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