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.
Go-To Verses from the Bible
He determines the number of the stars, He gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4
Good morning Prayer Team!
I have always been a follower of the manned space program. To this day, I like reading about astronauts and the conquest of space. One of the saddest days of NASA was February 1, 2003, when the Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere. One of the things I remember about that day was a short address that President George W. Bush gave to our nation, in which he quoted Isaiah 40:26. Here are a couple of lines from his address, including the quote from Isaiah:
In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet, farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (NIV) The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.
One of the greatest joys I have experienced is laying out under the stars, on a moonless night, in a place that was totally dark. All I could see was the stars, a number so great that I couldn’t count them. And these were the stars I could see with the naked eye. A telescope would have revealed stars beyond stars, galaxies beyond this galaxy. When I speak from the pulpit, I feel like I have “command” of the room, so to speak. But when I lay under the heavens, I feel small and insecure, compared to this canvas of majesty that God has painted across the skies. The feeling is both comforting and humbling.
It is humbling to think that I am really a nothing compared to the majesty of God. My life is really a nothing in the span of God’s eternity. My triumphs are temporary and even my setbacks, (even really big tragedies like the Columbia explosion) are small compared to the majesty of God.
When I think of God naming all the stars, which seem like an infinite number, I feel comfortable that He knows my name also. For a star cannot find salvation, only the human being, created in God’s image and likeness can do that. If God has made the stars so beautiful and timeless, has He not made us even more beautiful and more timeless than them?
This is why on one of the darkest days of our nation, the President chose these words of hope. On my darkest days, I try to remember them as well. God is so great, that even my setbacks cannot lesson His greatness. God is so great, that even my setbacks will not deprive me of experiencing His greatness. Life is a challenge. Life can be very tough. However, comparing God’s greatness and mercy to our temporary (and let’s not forget, all of life’s setbacks are temporary, they do not follow us into eternal life) setbacks give me hope, even on my hardest days. I am reminded that all God expects is effort, in the form of faith and of good works, and His mercies and grace will fill the gaps we cannot possibly fill.
I encourage you to spend some time in nature. I hope that at least once in your life, you’ll lay under the stars on a dark and cloudless night and experience the majesty of God.
Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, thank You for Your many gifts. Help me to always feel comfort and hope, even on bad days and during tough times. Shine Your Light on those around me who are going through difficult times. Help me also to be a source of comfort to others. Thank You for creating our world. Help me to trust that if You know the names of all the stars in the heavens, that You will remember me, and give me comfort, strength, reassurance and hope. For Yours is the dominion, the kingdom, the power and the glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Take time to appreciate the majesty of God!
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: Matt Litton
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