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
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Good morning Prayer Team!
What could be a great majesty than to be God?! There simply is nothing greater than the Creator. And yet Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took that joy and power, and in the act of extreme humility, took on the humiliation and pain of the cross. And through the Cross, He took His greatest victory. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, on the throne from which He will judge the living and the dead.
We are not God. But we are created in the image and likeness of God. God has put His Spirit into each of us, He has stamped His imprint on each of our hearts and souls. When you stop and think about that, what greater honor and majesty can there be for the human being, to bear the stamp of the Creator on us?! And yet, when we sin, we dishonor that honor and majesty. We all sin, unfortunately.
What is the remedy to cure our sinful nature and to reclaim that honor and majesty that we have the potential to share with God? The answer is found in the cross. If we can put aside our egos and embrace humility, so that we focus on Him, not on ourselves; so that we forgive, instead of bearing grudges; so that we love, instead of hate; so that we help, instead of being indifferent; if we despise the shameful things that are all around us, then we, too, can be resurrected in Christ and sit at His right hand at the throne of God.
St. Paul tells us the path to Chris is found in unburdening ourselves of the weights of life-anxiety, worry, materialism, ego-and the sins that cling so closely, the temptations that seem to be around every bend in the road. And then we must run not a sprint, but a marathon. There is no perseverance in a sprint, it is just a rush to finish. But a marathon is different. It requires perseverance and patience. It requires us to “stick with it.” And the faith is like this. We must run “the race set before us,” a journey as unique as each person. We all run a race, but that race is different for each of us. I run my race as a priest, a husband, a father. Each person runs his or her race a little differently, because the course set by God for each person is different.
So focus today on running your race, and running it for Christ. Stick with things that frustrate you. Put Christ in front of you at all times, as He alone is the “pioneer and perfector of our faith”. In other words, take up His cross and follow. Stick around the “cloud of witnesses” also, as they give strength and encouragement. But above all, despise anything that takes your focus off Christ, stay on His path. I hope life is long for each of you reading this message. But the journey is long as well. A marathon is a long race. There are thousands of steps just to run a mile and 26 miles to be run. The successful runner runs each step purposefully. Every day, take at least one step in your race. Those days will add up to years, which will end up to a life where the race is successfully finished. So, take up the cross today, and let it guide how you run your race. And let your race lead you to eternal glory at the throne of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of another day. Thank You for giving me tools to run my race. Inspire me today to focus on You, and taking steps closer to You as I run a few steps. Help me set aside the things that weigh me down, and to overcome sin which clings so closely. Give me purpose, confidence and wisdom to run with perseverance the race you have set before me. May I run my race today, and every, giving witness to You, the pioneer and perfecter of the Faith. Amen.
Have a great day today!