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.
As you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the Gospel of God in the face of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please me, but to please God.
I Thessalonians 2:2-4
Good news travels fast. And sometimes bad news travels even faster. We do, however, seem to love sharing news whether it is good or bad. An apostle shares the good news of Christ. Good disciples want to become good apostles. They want to share the good news of Christ.
Once a disciple (student) begins to understand the material (Christianity), he will naturally want to pass it on to others. That is the nature of the message. It is so good, so inspiring, that is demands to be shared. Every summer, when I go to summer camp, I want to talk about the experience with as many people as possible, not just about the good time I had up there, but because of how God’s hand seems to be ever-present up there. Everyone who goes to camp eagerly shares stories. They are easy to recall.
This is how our Christian faith should be. It should be something that is inspiring. Experiences with the faith or with the church should be memorable. And everyone who is part of this faith should want to share stories of Who Christ is and what He has done in their lives. Sharing Him should be as natural and as joyful as telling someone about going to summer camp or sharing information on vacations.
There are lots of people who are dedicated disciples who haven’t crossed the threshold to become apostles. There are lots of people who know about Christ, or who even know Christ, but they have never had the courage to share Him with anyone. I’ve never been (and I never will be) one to advocate going door to door to talk about Christ. I believe this should happen organically, not in a forced way. I also believe that we have opportunities for this to happen organically and most of us miss them. For anyone who is a devoted disciple, there will be opportunities where we will wonder, “should I bring up the Lord now?” or “should I offer to pray?” The good disciple will also, in prayer, ask God for guidance and opportunity to be a good apostle.
It takes courage and boldness to be an apostle. No one says it will be easy. Many people reading this message went to college and are now professionals. I wonder how many of us remember how it felt to see your first patient, or your first client, or walk into the courtroom for the first time. But you don’t stay like that forever. You build on the experience and become confident in what you are doing. And you don’t remember often what it was like at the start.
I remember celebrating my first liturgy. I was anything but confident. I felt like someone who had robbed a store, I needed someone to tell me that it was okay to do what I was doing. I remember it felt mechanical and not natural. I remember counting the number of times I censed each icon. None of this felt natural. Now it is who I am, it is natural, it is joyful.
The same principle applies to being an apostle. It will be nerve-wracking the first time you suggest praying with someone, or inviting someone to church. It will take some courage to say His name with someone else. But that is as it is with all the other challenges we face and conquer on our way to becoming who we are. Desire creates courage and boldness. If we want something, we will find the courage with which to do it. If we want to become good apostles, if that is something we really feel is important, we will find the courage to do it. If we really want our church to change the world, we will become the good apostles, like the first apostles, and we will rise to the challenge, face our fears and doubts and share the good news.
O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan which Thou didst form to sport in it. These all look to Thee, to give them their food in due season. When Thou givest to them, they gather it us; when Thou openest Thy hand, they are filled with good things. When Thou hidest Thy face, they are dismayed; When Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing of the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord. Psalm 104:24-35
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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