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.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Nine
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives to I give to you. John 14: 27
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
The word “peace” is generally defined as “absence of conflict.” In military terms, peace comes at the end of the conflict/war. There is a peace of Christ that we can experience in the middle of conflict. In Philippians 4: 6-7, we read, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace, the kind that passes all understanding, is the peace of Christ that comes in the midst of conflict. Only His peace comes to us like this.
Sometimes two people disagree on something. They are in conflict. But they can still experience the peace of Christ, even in the midst of their conflict. Because they know that that through patience, forgiveness and wisdom, conflict can be resolved. And while they work through the conflict they can still enjoy relative peace.
Sometimes people have internal conflict. They are unsure, even scared about what to do. Christ can bring peace into a troubled soul or mind so that one faces the conflict with peace and mental clarity.
Some conflicts are conflicts of circumstances. Take Acts 16: 24-25: “Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Paul and Silas are in prison, certainly not an environment that would evoke a sense of peace. In this midst of their conflict, they began praying and singing hymns to God. Not only did they feel a sense of peace, but the prisoners around them were listening to them and feeling peace as well.
I want to share a personal story if I may. Last year I had some surgery on my sinuses. I am very scared about hospitals, needles, etc. As I lay on the hospital bed, waiting for my procedure to begin, I was very nervous. My blood pressure and heart rate reflected my stress. As I lay there, I began to pray. I asked God for a thought that would take me far away from where I was, a thought that would give me peace in the midst of my anxiety.
The first thought that came to mind was the dirt track at my old high school. I was running on the track. And I thought to myself “Why, God, did you put THIS thought into my mind? I didn’t like high school, I didn’t like running and I didn’t like that old track.” In the next few seconds, I heard a voice saying “You can do it.” I felt better knowing that one person was sharing in the moment with me and I was not alone. In the next few seconds, I heard several hundred voices cheering me on. And in the next few seconds, the scene changed to the large football stadium in my city filled now with 100,000 people cheering for me. Who were all these people? They represented people in my life, friends and parishioners I had asked to pray for me, as well as the angels and the saints who are constantly praying for us.
Because of prayer and because of this thought that so many are praying for me, I felt a sense of peace. Yes, I was still the only one on the bed facing surgery but I felt like I wasn’t alone. This is another example of the peace that can come in the midst of conflict.
Answer me when I call, O God of my right! Thou hast given me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. O men, how long shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. Be angry, but sin not; commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say “O that we might see some good! Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O Lord!” Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their gran and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for Thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell safety. Psalm 4
If God shares His peace with us, we too can share His peace with one another. The peace of God not only brings calm in the midst of conflict but His peace can help resolve any conflict. Share God’s peace with those around you today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
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: Crosswalk
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