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.”
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: WHERE DO YOU STAND?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27
And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the Prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isiah the prophet, and asked “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:27-31
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today we will examine the third of three ways we can express love for God—through learning. One of the “weaknesses” if you want to call it that, about the Orthodox faith, is that there is no requirement to learn. Other churches have required catechism and confirmation in the teenage or young adult years, so that one has to learn about the faith, and make a public declaration that they want to belong. Because we baptize and chrismate infants, who then receive Communion and are full members from infancy, unless one comes into the faith as an adult, there is no occasion where one is required to learn or to take a class in the faith. And hence, many people do not. For many people, their experience of learning about the faith ends with Sunday school.
In just about every career path, continuing education is required in order to maintain either licensing or stay current with professional requirements. We are constantly learning about phones, social media and technology just to keep pace with changes in society. So, continual learning is a healthy part of a healthy life.
Continual learning about the faith is a healthy part of the Christian life. This includes reading scripture, taking part in adult education (Bible study, parish retreats, Orthodox 101 class/studies in the faith) and reading book on theology. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge one has, the more powerful his knowledge is for his life. The more knowledge one has about the Christian faith, the more powerful of a force that faith becomes in his or her life.
Knowledge—On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rank yourself on the following questions: Do I seek to continually learn about the faith? Do I read scriptures daily, or frequently? Have I read a book about the faith in the past year? Have I participated in a retreat or Orthodoxy 101/studies in the faith experience? Do I know more about Christianity than I did a year ago? Ten years ago?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
What are some ways that you can expand your knowledge of the faith? Set some goals for yourself, including a)reading of scripture; b)reading a book on theology or faith; c)participating in a retreat or an adult catechism experience at least once a year.
Lord, thank You for the gift of sacred scripture. Thank You for the many sources that explain the scriptures and help us understand and apply what we read. Please inspire my reading of scripture with knowledge of what I am reading. Open my ears and my heart to comprehend what I read. Open my mind to seeking other sources of knowledge about the faith. And bring people into my life who will help me to better understand and live out my Christianity. Amen.
Make a plan to gain more knowledge of Christianity in 2017!
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Photo Credit: Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church
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