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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros 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
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1-3 (From the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy of Pascha) Thursday of the 4th Week of Pascha
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
At the Resurrection service, we read two Gospel passages. The first commemorates the Resurrection of Christ, taken from Mark 16:1-8. This is read at the Resurrection service, traditionally outside of the church, at midnight, a message to the entire world that Christ is risen from the dead.
The second passage is taken from the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1-17. The next several reflections will be on this Gospel passage, which is filled with theology and history. Why read this passage on Pascha? The reason is that Pascha represents both an ending and a beginning for us. Pascha is the end of the Lenten journey. It is also the end of the history of hopelessness of the human race. Through the Resurrection the path was opened to Paradise for every person of faith.
More than the commemoration of an ending, Pascha provides us with a new beginning. Pascha provides us with a renewed start, and an opportunity for a renewed commitment. We remember God’s commitment to us to redeem us after we had fallen through sin. We remember this blessed event by recommitting ourselves to a renewed start. And to mark this renewed start, the church takes us back to the very beginning, so that we can again understand not only where we are going, but where we came from.
In the beginning was the Word. In the beginning, when there was nothing, there was God. God is “without beginning” and “uncreated.” God created everything. Nothing created God. Before anything was created, there was God. If a person wants to believe in God, the first thing one must believe is that God is uncreated and that He created everything. Because if God is created, then what makes Him different than us! God is greater than us because He created us. No one and nothing is greater than God because God created everything.
God existed, without beginning, in Trinity. Genesis 1: 1-3 reads In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
In these first three verses of the Bible, in the account of creation, we see God present “as Trinity.” “God” created refers to the Father. The “Spirit of God” moving over the waters refers to the Holy Spirit. And “God said” refers to the voice of God, who is Jesus Christ. Christ is referred to by many names: Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Messiah, Savior. And one of the names given to the “Son of God” is the “Word,” or the “Logos”.
So, when we read the term “Word” in John 1, this refers to Jesus Christ. Re-reading John 1:1-3 and inserting the name “Christ” into it, it would read as follows: In the beginning was Christ, and Christ was with God, and Christ was God. Christ was in the beginning with God (the Father and the Holy Spirit); all things were made through Christ and without Christ was not anything made that was made.
Working together—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit created everything that was created. God did not create the Son or the Spirit. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are pre-eternal. They are one God, in three persons—The Holy Trinity.
One way to explain the Holy Trinity is to take three candles, and hold them closely together and light them. From a distance, the three candles look like one candle, there is one light that is visible. You can then take the candles and separate them keeping one flame in the middle and showing that there are three distinct candles. This is how the Holy Trinity works—one God (one flame) in three distinct person (three candles).
In the Resurrection, we declare that everything will “end” with Christ, since He grants life to those in the tombs. In going back to the Gospel of John, we declare that not only things end with Christ, but they begin with Him as well.
O Lord, midway through the feast, give drink to my thirsty soul from the waters of true religion. For to all You the Savior cried aloud, Let whoever is thirsty come to Me and drink. As the fountain of life, O Christ our God, glory to You. (Apolytikion of the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
If Christ is the beginning and the end of us, make sure to keep Him in the center of your life today!
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