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.”
Rise up, come to our help!
Deliver us for the sake of Thy steadfast love!
Good morning Prayer Team!
Many prayer team members live in the projected path of Hurricane Florence. As of Tuesday afternoon, as I write this message, no one knows where exactly the hurricane will hit, or whether it will hit with the full force of a major hurricane or will be milder. People in coastal areas are already evacuating. People who live inland nervously wait. It was one year ago today 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 last year, 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 in the Carolinas or Virginia or anywhere else this storm is going to go, to those who are still recovering from the hurricanes of last year, 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 in the path of Hurricane Florence. I remember last year 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’s be thinking of us who were not going to be offering the Divine Liturgy. As I imagine that many churches will not be celebrating the Divine Liturgy this Friday, please know that when we lift the Holy Gifts “on behalf of all”, and later when we lift the Holy Cross and ask 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 Friday, September 14, so that we can pray for temperate weather, for deliverance from affliction and necessity, and we can represent those who will not be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy this Friday. 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 Florence. 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!
Photo Credit: abc7.com; Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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