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
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7
Good morning Prayer Team!
As with every Fruit of the Spirit, there is an opposing force that threatens to “sour” the fruit. Today we begin to examine “peace,” the third Fruit of the Spirit. Peace is the absence of conflict, disturbance and tribulation. The first thought that comes to mind when I think of the juxtaposition of peace and conflict is not some war-torn land. Rather it is a peaceful lake, where the water is still like glass. And then someone throws in a small stone and ripples appear in the water. The water is disturbed. The peace is gone, at least temporarily.
Every life, no matter how tranquil it appears, has ripples that disturb its peace. This is how we know what peace is. It is the absence of conflict. Peace and tranquility are the ideal. The ripples are part of our human reality.
In the Orthodox Church, when we gather to pray, the first thing we offer is “In peace let us pray to the Lord.” We then pray for the peace of God, and then for peace in the world. At the Divine Liturgy, the priest offers “peace be with you all” to the people prior to the Gospel reading, the Creed, and Holy Communion. At the most important parts of the Liturgy, we are reminded to have a disposition of peace.
There have been many protests for peace over the last century. Ironically, some of these protests for peace have turned violent. I have always believed that peace in the world is not advanced with protest. Rather, peace in the world begins with peace within ourselves. Like the other fruits, peace also is a choice. In a given situation, we can choose conflict or we can choose peace. We can choose to throw a stone into the heart of another person, causing them disturbance, or we can choose to let ripples smooth over in our hearts and in the hearts of others so there can be peace.
One of my favorite all time songs is “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955. The song says:
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
The decision to pursue peace is ultimately one that belongs to each person. And the goal of peace in the world begins with a decision to have peace in one’s own life, and his or her decision to spread peace to others.
One last thing to reflect on today is the concept of being a peace maker versus being a “peace-taker.” The peace maker bring a presence of calm over troubled waters. The peace maker is the person who, when he or she enters the room, calms any tension and sets people at ease. The peace-taker is one who routinely disturbs the peace in the hearts of others. The peace-taker is the person who, when he or she enters the room, everyone’s blood pressure goes up. Of course, at times we play the role of each—I’m sure there have been times I have been more peace-taker than peace maker. But ask yourself, which role do you play more often—peace maker, or peace-taker?
Today’s verse from Proverbs describes the ultimate person of peace, the one who can make even his enemies be at peace with him. Peace with enemies and peace in the world, these are the ideal. It all begins with a choice to have peace within yourself, and to be a peace maker.
Lord, our God, grant me a peaceful day. Where there are smooth waters, help me to keep the sense of tranquility, and surround me with others who will bring peace and tranquility to me. Where the waters are disturbed, help me to be someone who can smooth them over, and bring others into my life who will help calm my storms. Lord, help me to want to be a peace maker, and help me resist temptations to be a peace-taker. Amen.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Be a peace maker today—it will not only help you grow towards others, but towards God.
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.
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