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 they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:16
Good morning Prayer Team!
The shepherds looked at each other, mulled over what to do, and decided that not only they had to go see what the angels were talking about, but they had to go right now, with a sense of urgency. The Bible is filled with examples of people who went with haste.
When Jesus called the first disciples, Andrew and Peter, we are told that “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:20) And when He called James and John, the sons of Zebedee, “Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:22)
When Jesus told the Paralytic to take up his pallet and walk, “he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all.” (Mark 2:12) Jesus healed a blind man who instantly became a disciple: “Immediately he received his sight and followed Him, glorifying God.” (Luke 18:43) There was a man who wished for his son to be healed. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:23-24) All of these people encountered Christ, were ministered to, and immediately ran to Christ.
One of the most stunning turnarounds in the Bible is the story of Zacchaeus, a notorious tax collector who was the town pariah. Desiring to see who Jesus was, but unable to because he was short and unpopular, he ran up ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree. When Jesus saw him, He said “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down and received Him joyfully.” (Luke 19:5-6). Zacchaeus was a changed man because he heard the call of Christ. He repented and restored those who he had previously defrauded four times the value of what he had stolen.
So, we must follow the examples of immediacy from the shepherds, Zacchaeus, the disciples and the others. We need to make the most out of today and do it TODAY, because today is all that we have. We do not have yesterday—that is over. And we have no guarantee of tomorrow. We don’t even have a guarantee of later today. The only thing we have as a guarantee is the moment we are in right now. If the Lord comes at this very moment for your soul, He will undoubtedly be pleased to find you reading something edifying about His Nativity. If God comes looking for you later today, where will He find you? What will He find you doing?
We shouldn’t put off loving God or loving our neighbor because today might be the last day to do either. If your faith is not where you want it to be, if your prayer life is not where you want it to be, if your understanding of the scriptures is not where you want it to be, if your service to others is not where you want it to be, and most important, if these things are not where GOD wants and expects them to be, then go with haste and make inroads in these things. For time passes quickly. We only have a finite number of Christmases (and this number is only known by God) to understand the message of the Nativity. And we only have a finite number of years (and this number is only known by God) to put in to practice the things that we learn about God.
So, don’t let another day go by that you don’t pray, don’t read scripture, don’t serve others, and don’t let another day go by that you don’t laugh and have joy, because “This is the day that the Lord has made,” (Psalm 118:24) and not only are we to “rejoice and be glad in it” but we are to get the most out of it and we are to glorify God in it.
Come, let us extol and praise the Savior’s Mother, who remained a virgin even after childbirth. Animate City of our King and God, rejoice, for Christ having dwelt in you has wrought our salvation. Together with Gabriel we sing your praise, together with the shepherds we glorify you, crying out, “Theotokos, intercede with the Lord, who is incarnate from you, to save us.” (The Praises, Orthros of the Nativity, Trans. Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Do what pleases God 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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