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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5
At a recent stewardship meeting at church, I learned that a significant percentage of our parishioners pay their stewardship as one lump sum around the first of the year. The positive takeaway from this is that we don’t have to wonder all year whether what has been pledged is going to be collected. However, there are two not so positive things that can be taken away. First, overall giving is generally greater when the giving is spread out to monthly or weekly. After all, most people cannot give away ten percent (or a decent percent) of their yearly income when the year hasn’t even started. Second, and perhaps more significant, the idea of “giving” to Christ and to the Church is reduced to something similar to my property taxes, which are paid once a year, or the taxes on our car, that likewise we only think of once a year.
We think about eating on a continual basis. We think about shopping for food every few days. We wonder what we’ll eat for dinner while we are preparing breakfast. We think about laundry on a weekly basis—when it will get done, what needs to get washed, what outfit we need clean for an event. We think about yardwork every week in summer. We water plants every few days. We don’t deluge the plants with water on January 1 and ignore them the rest of the year because both the deluge and the drought will kill them. My point is that we each have a consciousness when it comes to eating, cleaning, laundry and many other things. If we have such a consciousness for things that are temporary, if not trivial, should we not have an even greater consciousness for something that is eternal?
In today’s Scripture verses, we remember how God sent manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the desert during their forty years in the desert. God would give them this food from heaven, every day for six days, and then an extra portion on the sixth day so that they would not have to collect it (work) on the Sabbath. This is where we get the phrase “give us this day our daily bread” from, that God provided for the Israelites on a daily basis, what they needed to eat on a particular day. The Israelites had to gather it every day. They had to trust God that it would be there every day. In other words, they had a consciousness about God’s gifts to them on a daily basis. They never went more than a day or two without thinking about God.
This is the kind of consciousness we should have when it comes to our giving to God and to the Church. It doesn’t matter “how much” someone gives but rather “how” someone gives. Yesterday we mentioned “four P’s” related to giving—that it should be planned, a priority, a percentage and it should be progressive. Today’s message is simply this—giving to God should be part of our consciousness on a daily basis. Whether that means giving Him time in prayer, giving Him talent by serving someone else, or giving treasure by offering support to His Church on a weekly or monthly basis. Important things like marriage and children get into our thoughts every day. So should our salvation. Unimportant things get into our thoughts every day—sports, news, entertainment, gossip and so many others. Isn’t our relationship with God more important than any of these?
When we have a consciousness of giving, it becomes easier to give, we will give more, and we will give out of habit. Giving will become part of who we are, it will be part of our identity. The most basic part of God’s identity is that He is the greatest of givers. In striving to grow in His image and likeness, we can each improve our giving and strive to be great givers as well.
Save me, O God by Thy name and vindicate me by Thy might. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For insolent men have risen against me, ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before them. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will requite my enemies with evil; in Thy faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to Thee; I will give thanks to Thy name, O Lord, for it is good. For Thou hast delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies. Psalm 54
We can all improve our consciousness of giving!
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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