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.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now this He said about the Spirit, which those who believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him. The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 7: 37-52; 8:12 (Gospel of Pentecost)
“Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Think about this statement for a minute. How would you conclude this statement, “out of my heart flow rivers of________.” (anger, filth, joy, disappointment) And if you have a hard time with this statement, try this one “out of my mouth flow rivers of_______.” (encouragement, discouragement, praise, condescending words, curse words)
We’ve all seen the beer commercial where they advertise that it is made using, “pure, Rocky Mountain water.” We see the cleanest stream, which seems alive with natural beauty and purity. We’ve all seen, probably with our own eyes, pollution in a harbor. I went on a cruise last year and where the ship was moored to the dock, there was pollution, litter, and oil marks on the surface of the water. Nothing “pure” and “natural” there.
What kind of “water” flows in your heart? What kind comes out of your mouth? Two difficult questions. I know that all the “water” in my heart is not pure. Certainly all the words of my mouth are not either. And yes, Jesus tells us that “if anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” So, what makes the difference between living water and filthy water flowing from our hearts and our mouths? It’s the same thing that makes the difference between the pure, Rocky Mountain water and the filthy water in the harbor. Human effort.
Human effort, in the form of conservation, keeps the mountain stream pure. Human negligence, in the form of commerce, or greed, or laziness, allows the harbor to become a place of pollution. Human effort plays a big part in the disposition of the human heart.
I can’t make the harbor at the Port of Tampa clean all by myself. I can decide that I am not going to make it worse by not putting more garbage in there. I can even decide to pick up litter that I encounter.
I CAN control the cleanliness of my heart. I can have a heart that flows with living water. And how is that possible? Well, I can’t do it all by myself, that is for sure. My own personal discipline will play a role. The encouragement of others will play a role. And Christ Himself will play a role. I have to open my heart and let Him in. I have to ask Him to make my heart pure. I have to desire to walk in His light, to “not walk in darkness” but to accept His “light of life.”
The Holy Spirit plays a role in this. For the Holy Spirit leads us to Christ by softening the heart with grace. The Holy Spirit heals the infirmities of our soul and heart so that our heart is ready to accept Christ and to be filled with the living water.
Think for a few moments today about what flows from your heart and your mouth, and whether they look like a Rocky Mountain stream or a polluted harbor. As you hear once again the prayers of Pentecost today, let them flow into your heart like an injection of life, living water, and light, and then get up from prayer with a renewed commitment to having living water flowing out of your heart and mouth and walking in the Light of Christ.
Create in me a clean heart, o God and renew a right Spirit within me.
Now the Spirit, the Comforter, is poured out on all flesh. It started with the host of the Apostles, and from them It spread out the grace to the believers by participation. It’s mighty coming is confirmed by distributing the tongues in the form of fire to the Disciples, to extol and glorify God. So, now that our hearts are noetically illumined, and we are fortified in faith by the Holy Spirit, let us earnestly pray for the salvation of our souls. (From the Aposticha of the Vespers of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Let living water flow from your heart and mouth!
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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