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.”
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. John 1:14 (From the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy on Pascha) Wednesday of the 5th Week of Pascha
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
How often do you think of the word “glory”? Specifically God’s glory? Have you ever wondered what “the glory of the Lord” might look like? Most of us probably don’t think about this often, if at all. We live in a world that is super-crazy-busy. The pace of life usually does not allow for us to slow down and reflect on things like this. We should, but many times we don’t. Also, because we are surrounded by the accomplishments of man, we forget about the accomplishments of God. For instance, as I sit in my office typing this message, I sit in a chair made by man, at a desk made by man, in a building built by man, using a computer made by man, typing on a keyboard with an arrangement of letters invented by man. Where is God’s glory at this moment?
Many of us are familiar with the Old Testament story of Moses. Moses was a man who I can totally relate to. God called him to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses at times was filled with doubt, sometimes he lacked self-confidence, other times he was stubborn, sometimes he had a short fuse, with both the people of Israel and with the Lord. But he kept at it. He sometimes went to the Lord and threatened to quit, but he never did. One day, Moses was exasperated and he came to the Lord in total desperation. The Lord saw Moses, in a state of panic and sadness and asked Moses what He could do to help him. Moses answered with one request: “Show me Thy glory.” (Exodus 33:18)
Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory.” And He (God) said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you My name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” He said, “you cannot see My face; for man shall not see Me and live.” And the Lord said “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by; then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:18-23)
And reading further we see that Moses was profoundly impacted by the experience:
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30)
Later in the Old Testament, we meet Elijah, a prophet of God who was respected by some, feared by others, and hated by others. Again, Elijah is easy to relate to, as most of us can say that we, too, are respected by some, feared by others and hated by others. One day Elijah was afraid, because he was running for his life from Jezebel, who had promised to kill him. In his great anxiety, he asked God to just go ahead and take his life. As he lay down to sleep, an angel came to him and provided him food and water to strengthen him. And then God brought Elijah to a cave, and then God passed by, and then there was a strong wind, then an earthquake and then a fire. God was neither in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He was in the small and still voice. His glory was not experienced in the power of the wind, or the force of the earthquake or the intensity of the fire, but in the peace of a small still, voice. (I Kings 19:1-12)
Christ Himself was scared in the Garden of Gethsemane. With the exasperation of Moses and the fear of Elijah, Jesus begged the Father to take away His cup of suffering. Ultimately, though, He submitted to God’s will for Him at that moment. And in His surrender, in the stillness of His prayer, an angel came and strengthened Him (Luke 22:43).
Back to the example of the office I am sitting in, if I didn’t give it much thought, I might wonder if there is a God in the midst of all my man-made stuff. But, if I sit and reflect, I realize that God made the tree, from which the wood came to make my desk. God made the metal that was mined from the earth to make the chair. And God made the mind of the man who created the computer and invented typing. If I stop long enough to reflect, I am surrounded by God’s glory, even in my man-made office.
We see that in prayer, in faith, in stillness, in trust, that Moses, Elijah and Christ felt the glory of God. If we want to experience God’s glory, we need the same attributes of prayer, faith, stillness and trust.
Psalm 46 reads in part “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear though the earth should change. . .The Lord of hosts is with us. . .Come, behold the works of the Lord . . .Be still and know that I am God.” Yes, there have been moments of majesty when I have seen the glory of God—overlooking the Grand Canyon comes to mind. But on a daily basis, I do not visit the modern marvels of the world. I seek after God’s glory in stillness and in prayer. Part of my daily prayer is to ask the Lord to “show me Your glory in some way large or small today.” And then I wait for Him to reveal Himself. And every day, something happens, sometimes large, usually small, that helps me to see God’s glory and to strengthen my faith.
With the streams of Your blood water my soul parched by unlawful offenses, and show it to be fruitful in virtue. For you have said to all, to approach You, all-holy Word of God, and to draw the water of incorruption, which is alive and washes away the sins of those who extol Your glorious and divine Resurrection. O Good One, You grant those who know You to be God the power of the Spirit that truly came down from on high to Your Disciples. You are the fountain and source of our life, O Lord. (Oikos, Feast of Mid-Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Ask God to show you His glory in some way large or small today. And spend some time being still, so that you can know that He is God.
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