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
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
I Believe in the Holy Spirit
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
Good morning Prayer Team!
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.
After the Resurrection and subsequent Ascension of Christ, He didn’t just leave us to our own devices until His Second Coming. He told His Disciples that the Holy Spirit would be sent down on them to sustain them—to “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) Ten days after the Ascension, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, enabling them to speak in all the languages known to mankind and to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world. These men, most of whom were illiterate fishermen, were now empowered through the grace of the Holy Spirit, to not only be good speakers but to be solid leaders. They took a fledgling movement and changed the whole world with it.
The best definition of the word “grace” comes from the Orthodox sacrament of Ordination, where it is said “The Divine Grace which always heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking.” Grace is what filled in the gaps for the Disciples and allowed them to become orators and leaders. Grace is what fills the gaps for us, so that sinful people like us, can continue to come before God in prayer and in the sacraments. Grace is what take ordinary substances like bread and wine and consecrates them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Grace is what allows ordinary human beings like us to become extraordinary, to partake of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the leader of the church. It is His Grace that effects all of our sacraments. In Galatians 5: 22-23, St. Paul speaks of the Fruit of the Spirit—Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When we cultivate these fruits in our lives, we come more in tune with the Holy Spirit. When we are more in sync with the Holy Spirit, these fruits are cultivated. They go hand in hand.
Going back to the Creed, the section on the Holy Spirit is brief. The Holy Spirit is also part of the Holy Trinity, thus He is also referred to as “Lord.” He is the “Creator of life.” A human being is created when male and female reproductive materials come together and are united with the presence of a soul, a God-like part of us that is placed in us by the Holy Spirit. It took a Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—to create the world. It takes a “trinity”—a man, a woman, and the Holy Spirit—to create a human being. This is why when we bring children into the world, as was told to me by one of the bishops of our church when we had our son, we become “co-creators” with God.
When our life on earth is over, it is the soul that will go back to the Lord for judgment. The one who places the soul is the Holy Spirit, thus He is called “The Creator of Life.” And thus, we worship and glorify the Spirit, together with the Father and Son. The Son of God is the mouthpiece of God, the voice of God. When God speaks through people, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires their utterances. It is then the Holy Spirit “Who spoke through the prophets” like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others, telling them to not despair, that a Messiah would come and redeem them. The Spirit continues to speak through each of us, when we cultivate His Fruit.
The Holy Spirit forever was, and is and will be, never beginning, never ending, but ranked and numbered with the Father and the Son. It is life and life-giving, light and giver of light; goodness itself and the source of goodness; through whom the Father is known and the Son is glorified, and by all is known the one power, one order, one worship of the Holy Trinity. (From the Praises of Orthros of Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
A foundational belief of the disciple is in the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is accessible to everyone. A foundational work of the disciple is to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in his or her life.
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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