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.
The Five Feasts of the Virgin Mary
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came and to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38
Good morning Prayer Team!
As we continue to prepare to celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, we continue to look at the five major feast days dedicated to her. Today we will talk about the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25. The theme for today is service. To “serve” means to help, but specifically, to help in the way that help is needed. There are many people who step forward to “serve” but end up serving themselves rather than someone else.
Let’s say for example that I want to serve you by painting your house. And you tell me, “If you want to serve, please mow the lawn and trim the trees.” And in return, I paint your house. I have not served you, because I haven’t done what you feel is helpful.
It’s the same thing in our service to God. God calls each of us to serve Him and one another in some way. Some will serve in ways that are very public, even in ways that will bring honors and adulation. Some will serve in ways that are unseen, even ways that are looked down upon. Who wants to be the garbage collector, or the person who cleans out septic systems? Yet without these people, we’d perish from the toxicity from our waste products. Someone has to answer the call to pick up our garbage and clean our “stuff.” Is there service not as equally valuable to the doctors who take care of us when we are sick? In the eyes of society, the doctor generally scores a higher value than the sanitation workers. He or she certainly gets paid more (and rightfully so, since this is a more specialized skill). However, in the eyes of God, they both rate the same, if they are truly serving.
The Virgin Mary was called to a most unique service. She was called to bear God’s Son. There was no manual for how to do this. Even the practical parts of this were going to be challenging—she was not married, how would she explain this to Joseph, her betrothed, or to those who knew her and knew she was not married. Yet, she said YES to the request of God through the angel. Her yes was indeed the greatest YES that has even been said. Because it set in motion the salvation of the world. Could she have known, or understood that at the time? Of course not. But she understood who God is, and that He calls each of us to different things. And even though she couldn’t possibly know the outcome of her calling, she said yes anyway. That is faith and that is service. To answer the call without knowing the outcome and then to give your best in doing what you were called to do.
There is no path to God that doesn’t involve service, service in helping others and service in a specific way that He has called you or I to serve. My path to God is through the priesthood. This is how He has called me to serve. In service to Him, I’ve served three communities, none of which I saw before beginning my service in them. Each of you reading this message has your own path to the Lord, and your path run through something He has uniquely called you to do. The challenge is to answer His unique call for you without getting frustrated over the calls other people have. The second challenge is to actually “serve” in your calling, to many times put aside your ideas when they don’t match for what is needed, and simply do what is needed.
Serve today by living out your unique calling, and doing it with joy!
Today is the summary of our salvation, and the revelation of the age-old mystery. For the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. Therefore, let us join him, and cry aloud to the Theotokos: “Rejoice, Maiden full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Apolytkion of the Annunciation, Third Tone, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes).
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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