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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Rise up, come to our help! Deliver us for the sake of Thy steadfast love! Psalm 44:26
Today is anything but a holiday for the people of the Bahamas, who are suffering widespread devastation as they are hit by Hurricane Dorian. After the hurricane ravages the Bahamas, it will turn towards the eastern coast of the United States. Many prayer team members live near the projected path of Hurricane Dorian. As of Monday morning, as I write this message, no one knows where exactly in our country the hurricane will hit, or whether it will hit with the full force of a major hurricane or will be milder and stay out at sea. People in coastal areas are already evacuating. People who live inland nervously wait. It was two years ago that Hurricane Irma smashed into Florida (and other parts of the southeast). Our family evacuated. I remember the stress of wondering, will we be flooded in a few days of will we just get a lot of rain? Will my house or office have a roof on it? Have I served my last Liturgy in our church, because it is about to be destroyed? Do I pack up and leave and hope I have enough gas to get to a place that is safe and has a hotel room? Or do I hunker down and risk that nothing will happen to my house while I am in it?
As it was two years ago, no one knows the answer to any of these questions. Though everyone in the path of the hurricane has these questions. There is one thing I know for certain. My answer and our collective definitive answer is for us to pray. Homes may be destroyed or spared. Property may be damaged or remain intact. But one thing that won’t change is our faith in God. All of our stuff is just that, stuff. One day (hopefully a long time from now), when we die, we won’t take any of our “stuff” with us, only our faith.
To those on the prayer team who live on the east coast of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, or anywhere else this storm is going to go, to those who are still recovering from the hurricanes of last year in the Carolinas and in the Florida panhandle, all I can offer is to keep praying, don’t lose faith and keep focusing on what really matters, your salvation.
I ask everyone to pray today for those already affected by Hurricane Dorian and those who live in its path. I remember two years ago how we were unable to celebrate the Divine Liturgy one Sunday. I remember a priest telling me that when he lifted up the Holy Gifts, “on behalf of all and for all,” that he’d be thinking of us who were not going to be offering the Divine Liturgy. As I imagine that many churches will not be able to celebrate services this week, please know that when we lift the Holy Gifts “on behalf of all”, and later when we raise the Holy Chalice and God to “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance,” we will be lifting them for you. We will be lifting you in prayer. For those who are able, please make every effort to attend the Divine Liturgy this Sunday, September 8, so that we can pray for temperate weather, for deliverance from affliction and necessity, and we can represent those of all denominations who will not be able to gather in their churches to pray. Let us lift up our hearts, for them!
We pray for your safety, for the quick and safe return to your homes and churches, and for minimal damage in any place the hurricane goes. Our church communities will withstand this storm. Our faith will withstand all of life’s storms.
Lord our God, we pray that Your protecting hand will be over all of the people who are being affected by Hurricane Dorian. Grant safe passage to all those who are evacuating. Calm nerves. Provide sustenance. Grant them safe shelter, and return them safely home after the storm has passed. For those who are living in areas that will be affected by this storm, relieve their anxiety and comfort them. Protect families, homes and businesses. Also be with the first responders and rescuers who will be out working and helping others during the storm. Help us, save us, have mercy on us and protect us, O God, by Your grace. Amen.
Please pray today! Stay safe!
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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