Who Will Take the First Step?  How About the Second?

Who Will Take the First Step?  How About the Second?

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Who Will Take the First Step?  How About the Second?

 
 
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We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.

 

Authentic Relationships

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Romans 12:9-10

Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation.  We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God.  2 Corinthians 6: 2-7

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

When I was a child, I remember a television miniseries called “Blood and Honor.”  It was a story about the Hitler youth in Nazi Germany.  There was one scene that I will always remember and often think of.  A Jewish couple lived in a small town in Germany, where there children played with German children.  As news began to filter to this small town that in the large cities, the German children were harming the Jewish children, the mother said to the father “Maybe we need to leave this town before something happens to our children.”  And the father said to the mother, “It can’t happen here.  We’re a small town.  We’re all family.”  And then it did happen.  Their children were eventually killed by their “friends.”

The statement “it doesn’t happen here,” is one of the most dishonest and inauthentic statements one can make.  “It” happens here.  “It” happens everywhere—divorce, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, lack of self-esteem, doubt, fear, pornography, marriage problems, insecurity, anger, frustration, despondency, health issues,  financial insecurity, worry over children, lack of faith and many other issues.  They happen in our church communities.  They happen to the people next to us in the pews.  They happen to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.  They happen to US!  And yet we pretend they don’t.  We feel like we can’t let anyone in on our problems, better to just be inauthentic and save face and be stoic.  Is this any way to live?

The choice for vulnerability and authenticity is just that, a choice.  I applaud twelve women who inspired this unit on authenticity.  I applaud them for coming to a retreat that didn’t necessarily make them better moms or give them better children.  But it hopefully inspired them to become more authentic moms.  And authenticity is what will make them better moms and help them raise better children.

We need more of this in our society, more sharing, more supporting, more praying, more encouraging, more vulnerability, more authenticity.  No, we’re not going to have this with every person we meet.  But there are sadly a lot of people who do not have even ONE authentic relationship, and that needs to change.

We all know the saying “It takes two to tango.”  Well, it takes two to be vulnerable.  In our relationship with Christ, He’s already made the first move—He died for us, what is more vulnerable than that?  Are we ready to make the second move?

And in our relationships, it always takes one person going first when it comes to showing vulnerability.  It is easier to take that step when another person commits to go second.  So, are you willing to take the first step?  Are you willing to commit to taking the second step if someone else goes first?

One of my favorite songs is “If Everyone Cared” by the group Nickelback.  Allow me to share some of the lyrics:

 

And as we lie, beneath the stars,

We realize how small we are,

If they could love, like you and me,

Imagine what the world could be?

 

If everyone cared and nobody cried,

If everyone loved and nobody lied,

If everyone shared and swallowed their pride,

Then we’d see the day when nobody died.

 

In relation to God, we are indeed pretty small.  If the Almighty God was vulnerable for us, why can’t we be vulnerable to Him?  If He took the first step, why can’t we take the second?  Imagine what the world would be like if everyone had an authentic relationship with Christ?  And if everyone had at least one or two authentic relationships (not 10 or 20, just one or two), so that everyone was caring and everyone was cared for, so that everyone was sharing and swallowing their pride, well, no one would die sad and alone or without Christ.  The “day when nobody died,” is a vision of heaven.  And as Christians, the path to heaven is love, caring, vulnerability and authenticity, with Christ and with each other.

Lord, thank You for the gift of my life.  Thank You for my joys and thank You even for my struggles.  Thank You that I have another day of life to learn, to grow, to love and to hope.  Help me build an authentic relationship with You.  Help me build authentic relationships with others.  Help me to be an authentic person.  Fill me with joy and with hope and with the desire to bring joy and hope to others.  Bring me to the day when nobody will die, to salvation in Your heavenly Kingdom.  Amen.

Build authentic relationships!

 

+Fr. Stavros

         

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: Renew Refresh Reset Your Life

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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