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.
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
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Two
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
We’ve all seen both sides of a stained glass window. When we stand outside a church during the day and look at the exterior of the stained glass windows, they look dark, heavy and foreboding. The actually look dreary. Then, when you come inside the church during the day, and you look at the windows, with the light of sun behind them, they appear beautiful, light and welcoming.
The beauty of the windows depends on which side we are looking at them through. No one is going to spend much time looking at a darkened stained-glass window. It’s hard to even tell who is depicted in the windows when they are dark. Looking at the windows from the inside, there is a lot to see and appreciate.
The Christian life is a lot like looking at a stained glass window. It will look a lot different depending on which side of the window you are looking at. If you look at Christianity from the outside, it appears dark and foreboding, like the outside of a stained-glass window. To the outside, Christianity appears to compromise freedom, as there are rules to follow and activities to be avoided. It appears ritualistic, as if we march through some paces that someone else created which we have to embrace in order to attain “salvation.” The makeup of a church congregation might be foreboding, rather than welcoming. And the burden of sin that one carries can make one feel intimidated.
On the other hand, there are those who know Christ, who look at the windows from the inside. They have made the choice to come to Christ. They are building a relationship with Christ. They have come to not only see beauty in the Christian life and relevance in Christ’s message, but also feel personally welcomed by Him. The message of today’s verses resonates with them. Christ and the church are not dark and dreary, but light and welcoming, eager to embrace those who are heavy laden with stress, guilt, sin or whatever burdens their souls. They are eager to “yoke” with Christ.
The difference in the two groups of people is which side of the glass they are looking in. The ones who are looking at the inside of the glass see beauty because they’ve made the choice to step into the building and look around. Others have chosen to remain outside. Of course, we are talking about the building as a metaphor for the Christian life. Those who see the “beauty” of Christ and Christianity see it because they’ve made the choice to step into the life of Christ and the Christian life and look around. The beauty is not found in just a casual look, usually, but by immersion into the life of prayer, faith, worship, and service. When we really look upon Christ, we will see the beauty of following Him.
Many people who now see the beauty of the stained glass windows in this metaphor had a significant event or events in their life, an event that helped them see the “stained glass window” from the inside, and to realize that the Christian life is beautiful. A question for you to ponder today is “have you had such an event?” And if you are on the outside looking in, why do you think you remain outside and can’t see them from the inside?
The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes, He does not keep silence, before Him is a devouring fire, round about Him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather to Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge! “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. I do not reprove you for your sacrifices; your burnt offerings are continually before Me. I will accept no bull from your house, nor he-goat from your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is Mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” But to the wicked God says “What right have you to recite My statutes, or take My covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. If you see a thief, you are a friend of his; and you keep company with adulterers. You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you. Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I rend, and there be none to deliver! He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors Me; to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50
The Christian life may look dull from the outside, so take steps to move inside to see the beauty of Christ and the Christian 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.
Photo Credit: faversham.org
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