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.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Good morning Prayer Team!
I’m writing to you from summer camp, where I have been for the past twelve days. We have three goals at summer camp. The first is safety—everyone goes home in one piece. The second is to create an environment which encourages the campers and the staff to grow in their faith. This is done through worship services, Orthodox Life classes, late-night discussions we call “hang time,” question and answer sessions with priests, and prayer throughout the day, as well as the opportunity to receive the sacrament of confession.
The third goal of our camp is to have fun. And we have a lot of fun. We don’t break hundreds of water balloons. We break thousands. There isn’t much sleep going on at this camp—there is just so much activity going on. The thing with our fun at camp is that it is good, wholesome fun. There is no cut-throat competition. There is not cursing or screaming. Everyone gets to participate. And the goal is just to have a good time. Sure there are winners and losers at every little event, but there is more laughter than anything else.
Many of us adults are very stoic. We have a hard time letting loose or having a good laugh. It is a sad fact that many people resort to alcohol to loosen up or have a good time. It is great at summer camp that we engage in good, wholesome fun and do it naturally, using the talents and humor that God innately blessed us with.
I’d like to think that deep down, we all have the innocence of childhood in us. I’m forty-five years old and I confess that I enjoy throwing my share of water balloons at camp. It’s been really fun to just laugh and cry and take down walls of pretentiousness and just engage in wholesome activities.
I’m speaking about camp to begin our discussion on the Fruit of the Spirit which is “goodness.” And I’m starting here because there isn’t enough goodness in our world. There is a lot of pretentiousness. There is a lot of angst. There is a lot of competition. And these things drive stress, insecurity and struggle. What we need in our world is more goodness.
There are a few people in my life that I have been fortunate to meet who seem to overflow with goodness. They don’t need an artificially or chemically induced high to have a good time. They exude goodness just about all the time. A phrase called “the ‘it’ factor” is often used in sports. “The ‘it’ factor” is an intangible quality which cannot be quantified. The “touch” on the ball, or “presence” in the huddle, or “meticulousness” of preparation, or overall “confidence” when on the field, these are all things that can comprise the “’it’ factor.” And while it can be argued that each of the Fruit of the Spirit has some “it factor” with it, I think most of goodness when I think of the “it factor” for human beings. Some people just seem to overflow with it. They seem to find goodness in just about anything.
The last point for today is that there are lots of fun and wholesome things that are Godly. Just because something is fun doesn’t make it necessarily sinful. There are plenty of fun things to do that don’t break any of the Ten Commandments, or dishonor ourselves or someone else. Like throwing water balloons. I think that God is pleased that we have nearly one hundred teenagers engaged in fun that is also wholesome. And I think that He is pleased when we adults to the same. So break some water balloons. Have a good laugh. Take delight in simple joys. Play games that are not high stakes and where winning or losing doesn’t affect life at all. Wholesome things are good and fun and Godly as well.
Lord, thank You for people who are around me who seem to flow with goodness. (name them) Help me to receive joy from wholesome activities. Bring people around me who will encourage me to do good and wholesome things each day. Amen.
Engage in a “wholesome” activity today.
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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