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
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law. I am a sojourner on earth; hide not Thy commandments from me! Psalm 119:18-19
Good morning Prayer Team!
By God’s grace, this year, I will celebrate 20 years since my ordination the Holy Priesthood. On the day of my ordination, as happens at all ordinations to the Holy Priesthood, my ordaining bishop, after my ordination, and after the consecration of the Holy Gifts, placed the Body of Christ (the large piece of bread which had been consecrated for that Liturgy) in my hands, and gave me the following charge:
Receive this Divine Trust, and guard it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand it of you.
As I reflect on that moment, I realize that it was both one of the most exhilarating moments of my life and one of the most harrowing. For in that moment, I received in my unworthy hands, the Body of Christ, not only the Eucharist, but the Church, for the church is also “the Body of Christ.” I was given a charge to protect it, as well as a directive that one day I will answer for what I did with it.
I am so thankful for the ministry of this prayer team, that through this ministry, there are people who pray, and people who embrace learning more about our faith. I know in my life, I want to improve both my prayer life, my understanding of the faith, and my application of that understanding to my everyday life.
Lots of times, all of us, myself included, feel like hamsters running on a wheel when it comes to our faith. We run, we may even run fast, but there are times when we feel like we are getting nowhere.
For the past year, I’ve had a burning desire in my heart to write a substantial unit for the Prayer Team, not only to help the Body of Christ, the church, but to help me in my own journey to salvation. For the next couple of months, I will be writing about what it means to be a Disciple, what it means to be called, and how to be more engaged in the life of the church. There will be both scriptural reference and practical advice throughout.
We’ve all put puzzles together. When we pour out the pieces initially from the box, it looks like a jumbled mess. A process of sorting, grouping and outlining follows, and with some work, a beautiful completed puzzle emerges. By God’s grace, I hope to put some pieces together in my own life, and I pray in yours, so that the “puzzle” that is my soul can emerge more vibrant, purposeful and with greater understanding both of what God put me here to do, and how to fulfill this call. I pray that through this unit, you will get a greater understanding of your purpose and God’s call for each of you, because most definitely He has call you, as He has called me, to some very specific and beautiful things. How we answer our respective calls makes this life more meaningful, and leads to everlasting life, the common call we have all received.
Today’s verse from Psalm 119:18-19, reads as a prayer, asking God to open our eyes, that we may behold His wondrous things. We are sojourners on earth, making our way through a journey to everlasting life. Whether you feel like you are going backwards, standing still or moving forward, this unit will offer something to everyone.
Today’s prayer is the first prayer that greets every new day, a prayer to the Holy Spirit. When I was ordained a priest, it was with the words “The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm, and completes that which is lacking” and then the words of ordination. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide each of us, to bolster what we know with things that we do not know, so that when we’ve finished this unit, we’ll each have a better understanding of what it means to be a “disciple” as well as how to live out our call in a manner that “engages” us and in turn inspires us to “engage” others.
O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth: You are everywhere filling all things; Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life: come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One! (GOA Archdiocese Website)
I look forward to making this journey with you! I’m excited for where He is going to lead us!
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: TCW
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