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
And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child. Luke 2:17
Good morning Prayer Team!
One of the most boisterous carols of the Christmas season is called “Go Tell It on the Mountain:”
Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.
Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.
After the shepherds heard the message of the angel, saw the glory of God and heard the heavenly choir, they decided to go, and to go with haste to see what the angel had spoken about, the Babe in the manger. They went and found Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in the manger, just as the angels had said.
Imagine if the story had stopped here. Imagine if the shepherds did everything that they did, saw everything they saw, and then said nothing to anyone. Who would have known about the Nativity?
If you think about it, the sin we commit most in our lives is that we gossip. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t speak in some unflattering or untruthful way about someone. We all do it. It’s like we are almost addicted to it! Like we can’t go even one day without it!
So if we like to spread bad news often, why is it that we don’t want to spread the GOOD news even more? We are supposed to “go tell it on the mountain,” in our homes, to our neighbors, to our children, with our spouses. We are supposed to make known the things of God to other people.
The shepherds made known the saying that was told to them by the angels. They didn’t worry if they would be talked about, or ridiculed or scorned. They were moved by what they had seen—a message from an angel, the glory of the Lord, the hymn of the heavenly hosts, the baby in the manger, the tender love of His mother, the solid protection of Joseph.
How many times in your experience have you been part of a conversation that was completely negative? We’ve all had this experience. Many times I feel like saying “tell me something good.”
God is not a God of negativity, but a God of peace, love and joy. St. Paul writes in his Epistle to the Galatians, that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) He also warns us that “the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5: 19-21)
We need more talking about God, more cultivating of the Fruits of the Spirit, and less encouragement towards the works of the flesh.
Do you ever talk about the Lord with anyone? If not, why not? I’m not talking about making a theology presentation, but merely saying to another person, “being a Christian makes a big difference in my life.” This is something we need to say to others—to encourage them, for them to encourage us, to get us talking about the good news.
If you read the Bible carefully, you will discover that there were many “evangelists,” people who shared the good news, not just the four Gospel writers. The first “evangelists” were simple shepherds. A man who had been healed of demonic possession by Jesus “went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:39) A Samaritan woman (Samaritans were sworn enemies of the Jews) had a conversation with Jesus and “went away into the city and said to the people, ‘come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’. . .Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” (John 4: 28-29, 39) And don’t forget, the chosen disciples were mostly illiterate fisherman.
There are no qualifications needed to tell people about the Lord. Just faith, and desire to share it. We’re so eager to spread bad news. Let’s show the same enthusiasm and talk about the Good News!
Now the prophesy draws near to its fulfillment which mystically foretold “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not the least among the princes, preparing as you do the cave; for our of you shall come forth unto me a Governor of the Nations in the flesh born of a virgin Maiden, Christ our God who as a shepherd shall tend His people, the new Israel.” Let us all give Him glory. (Hymn from the Royal Hours of the Nativity, Trans. Seraphim Dedes)
Remember the Lord in at least one conversation today!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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