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
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were filled with fear. Luke 2:9
Good morning Prayer Team!
Have you ever thought about the word “glory”? Have you ever wondered what “the glory of the Lord” might look like?
In Exodus 33: 18-23, God shows His glory to Moses:
Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory.” And He (God) said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you My name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” He said, “you cannot see My face; for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by; then I will take away My hand, and you shall see my back; but My face shall not be seen.”
And reading further we see that Moses was profoundly impacted by the experience:
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30)
In the Gospels, we read about the Transfiguration of Christ, when He was Transfigured in glory before three of His disciples, “And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light.” (Matthew 17:2)
So, imagine these poor shepherds, watching their flocks by night, trying to fight off sleep and keep warm from the cold, and all of a sudden an angel appears to them and the glory of the Lord surrounds them. A black sky is suddenly filled with light so bright that you can’t look at it. Busy Bethlehem misses the miracle. It is experienced by the shepherds. How powerful it must have been for them to see God’s glory!
Our modern definition of glory is quite different. Glory is used to describe accolades and other things for which one is given fame. For instance the hero of the Superbowl gets all the glory and fame that comes with winning the game.
Glory is also used to describe better days gone by. For instance, from 1963-1975, The UCLA men’s basketball team won 10 national titles including 7 in a row. These years are known as the “glory years” of their program. Some of you may be old enough to remember them.
But here is the thing with these two definitions of glory—eventually they fade. Eventually everyone who remembers a Superbowl hero or the UCLA dynasty dies, and those stories of glory are only read about in magazines and watched in movies. Indeed man’s “glory” is fleeting.
The glory of God is something that the faithful Christians will live in forever. God’s glory never fades.
We get glimpses of God’s glory in this life as well. We stand in His glory when we receive Communion. In the Eucharist, the human being touches the Divine God. We touch His glory. His glory shines on us. We stand in His glory when we offer a heartfelt prayer. We stand in His glory when we glorify Him in what we do, when we do something for Him. Two people who pray together share His glory.
And the glory of God changes people. Standing in the sunlight will change the color of your skin. Standing in the Light of Christ will change the color of your heart. If you want to feel God’s glory, spend five minutes a day praying from now until the Nativity—30 days—and watch how that will change your life. If you are someone who already does this, you know what I mean. Look upon the face of someone who has stood in God’s glory and they don’t look lost. They look at peace. They can even be stressed out and still be in peace. God’s glory changes people. It allows them small glimpses into God’s kingdom in this life. It prepares them to stand in God’s glory for eternal life.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His work, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I will rejoice in the Lord. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord o my soul! Praise the Lord! Psalm 104: 31-35 (Read at the Vespers of the Nativity)
Have a Glory-ous day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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