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.”
Then Jesus’ mother and His brothers came to Him, but they could not reach Him for the crowd. And He was told “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He said to them, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8: 19-21
Good morning Prayer Team!
Having prayed for a perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless day, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.
To You, O Lord.
Having taken the journey through the Divine Liturgy and having partaken of Holy Communion, we close off the service with petitions that direct us what to do once the service has finished. Being an Orthodox Christian is not something that we compartmentalize into an hour or so on Sundays (and other days) at the Divine Liturgy. Rather, the Divine Liturgy serves to re-educate and remind us what the Christian life is all about. It reconciles us to God and to one another. It encourages and comforts us. And as it is about to end, it calls us to action.
Having prayed for (the) perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless day, the Divine Liturgy now calls us to action, to commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God. We have heard this phrase multiple times at the Divine Liturgy. This is the last time that it is heard at the Divine Liturgy. Its repeated use reminds us that the Orthodox Christian life is indeed a “lifestyle,” something that should be part of our everyday experience. It is not enough to commit ourselves and one another and “one hour on Sundays” to Christ our God. Every day is supposed to be committed to Him, to loving Him and to loving and serving one another.
This last petition is a message to us—GO BE what we’ve been praying for—be a peacemaker, make decisions based on what is good for your soul and on what promotes peace in the world, love one another, give thanks to the Lord, live out life in peace and repentance, and so many more directives we receive through the service.
When we compartmentalize our Christian faith to the one hour of the Liturgy on Sunday, then our participation in the life of the church is a formal, check the box type of participation. When we limit our prayer life to the Divine Liturgy and our study of scripture to the Sunday Gospel, we are compartmentalizing them as well. Prayer and reading of scripture is supposed to be something we do each day. Living the Christian life of loving God and loving neighbor is supposed to happen on a daily basis as well.
The verse of scripture quoted above reminds us that it is not enough to merely “hear” the word of God. We are supposed to do something with what we’ve heard. We’re supposed to love, to forgive, to help, to learn, to serve and so many other things. And the commitment to live the Christian life is not limited to Sundays but is something that is a lifetime commitment lived out each day. Finally we are to encourage one another to be committed Christians. In loving our neighbor, we not only look out for the welfare of our neighbor but we are supposed to encourage the Christian life of our neighbor as well.
I thank You, Lord my God, that You have not rejected me, a sinner, but have made me worthy to partake of Your holy mysteries. I thank You that You have permitted me, although I am unworthy, to receive your pure and heavenly gifts. O loving Master, who died and rose for our sake, and granted to us these awesome and life-giving mysteries for the well-being and sanctification of our souls and bodies, let these gifts be for healing of my own soul and body, the averting of every evil, the illumination of the eyes of my heart, the peace of my spiritual powers, a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, the fulfilling of wisdom, the observing of Your commandments, the receiving of Your divine grace, and the inheritance of Your kingdom. Preserved by them in Your holiness, may I always be mindful of your grace and no longer live for myself, but for You our Master and Benefactor. May I pass form this life in the hope of eternal life, and attain to the everlasting rest, where the voices of Your Saints who feast are 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. (From the Thanksgiving Prayers following Holy Communion)
Let Christian principles guide your life today!
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