And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

Bright Week is one of the most important weeks of the year. There are varying reactions to the end of Great Lent and the Feast of Pascha. Some people didn’t really engage in Great Lent and Holy Week, maybe showed up at church for Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday and so there isn’t much of any reaction. The “church box” has been checked and it will be many months before it is checked again. Some people really put a lot into the Lenten journey and into Holy Week, and this week there is physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and even an emotional down. While we can’t sustain the intensity of Holy Week much more than one week, now that it is over, it’s like we don’t know what do with our evenings. I personally feel a little depressed during Bright Week, as the “high” of being “on” all the time wears off. Other priests have said they feel the same. And then there is the feeling of renewal that we are supposed to have. After all, we call this week “Renewal Week” or “Bright Week.”

As we transition back into our regular life post Holy Week, it is important that we hold onto something positive from this experience. As I think back to why I chose this topic, “Out of the Depths I Cry to You, O Lord,” to cover Great Lent and Holy Week, I did so because, like everyone, I have my low moments, the moments when I relate to the cry of Christ from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) I wonder why I consistently fail at certain things, why I can’t have success in certain areas, why I fall to temptations, why I can’t be forgiven by others, why I can’t forgive myself, and where is God in all of this.

As I try to bring some conclusion to this topic, for the Prayer Team and for myself, I have come to a couple of conclusions:

  • God is good.  God has been good to me, and to you.  The fact that we are breathing today and are alive is as a result of the goodness of God.  The fact that I can type in an air-conditioned office, using a talent that God has given me which also provides sustenance for me and my household, all of these result from the goodness of God.  If we know goodness, then we know God, even when we don’t attribute goodness to Him.
  • I will fall again.  And again, and again.  This is why I need continual repentance.  I will try not to fall and yet I will still fall in my human condition of sinfulness.  Sometimes I will not try, and I will fall intentionally, because of my choice to sin. Many years ago, I did a retreat on confession and repentance and I said that confession and repentance don’t work like an etch-a-sketch, the well-known children’s toy where you draw on a screen and then shake the screen to erase it.  Yes, God cleans the screen of our souls each time we repent, but it is with the encouragement to “go and do not sin again,” (John 8:11) not “go and sin all you want and bring it back the next time you want the screen cleaned.”  God’s forgiveness is offered with the idea that we are coming back with a sincere effort to repent.  Having received a renewed start on Pascha, it is up to us to work hard to avoid past sinful tendencies and even if we fall to them again, to pick ourselves up and continue the fight against sin and for God.
  • The goodness of God is greater than my sinfulness.  My sinfulness cannot overwhelm God’s ability to forgive sin.  When we come to God in repentance, His mercy can remove the stain and shame of our sinfulness.
  • God qualifies the called.  I saw a great post on the internet, which is posted without attribution to any author.

Jacob was a cheater.

Peter had a temper.

David had an affair.

Jonah ran away from God. 

Thomas was a doubter.

Sarah was impatient.

Elijah was distressed.

Martha was a nervous wreck.

Miriam was a gossiper.

Zacchaeus was short.

Moses stuttered. 

Abraham was old.

But have you noticed what these people had in common?

Despite their pasts and shortcomings, God still chose them.

God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

  • There is a choice to make every day, even in every moment. The choice to follow after God is one that must be made every day, even in every moment.  The choice to not follow God can be reversed at any moment.  Just because I choose God today doesn’t mean my salvation is guaranteed.  Just because I choose against God today doesn’t mean I’m destined for condemnation.  The thief chose Christ in his final moment and still found redemption.  That doesn’t mean that we should wait until the final moment either.  The choice to follow God is not something we make one time for all time.  We must make it every day, at multiple moments in the day.  Like, many of us, I have a habit of getting distracted, even procrastinating, sometimes even while writing these messages, I look for something on the internet for the message and end up looking at news articles or sports shorts, etc.  And then I have to refocus and choose to not be distracted.  Instead of beating up myself for the five (or more than five) minute loss of focus, I tell myself “NOW I will focus” and make the next five minutes count more than the last five.  This is how repentance works—start with the best of intentions, and if you fall, get right back on and start again with the best of intentions.
  • Psalm 4:3 says “The Lord hears when I call to Him.” If we are in joy or in sorrow, the Lord hears when we call to Him.  His answer may not be the one we want, it may not come in a way we understand, it may not come immediately, but the Lord hears those who call upon Him.  I will keep calling to the Lord.

The older I get, the more aware I am of my own sinfulness. The longer I am a priest, the total number of people I hopefully help grows. So does the total number of people I hurt, intentionally or unintentionally. I began this series thinking about my own cries to God, the sorrows in the depth of my soul for which I need His comfort and forgiveness. As this unit comes to a conclusion, now in the light of the Resurrected Christ, I still carry a cross of sin and shame but somehow it feels a little lighter. If you are carrying a similar cross, I hope yours feels lighter as well. I am motivated to give the best I can, in the hopes that when I can’t or don’t give my best, that God will forgive me and that others will as well. I still struggle to understand why I don’t choose God in all times and in all places, why my own desires win over the desire to please Him. This is why I will continue to ask for Him to speak good things into my heart, so that I can hear His voice over the voices of sin and temptation. And so that over feelings of sorrow and temptation that are the result of sin, I can feel His peace, love, hope and comfort.

Come, let us drink a new drink. Not one miraculously brought forth from a barren rock, but from the fountain of immortality, spring forth from Christ’s Tomb, from which we are edified. (Katavasias, Resurrection Service, p. 453, Holy Week and Easter by Fr. George Papadeas)

To Him be the glory and the dominion and the power to the ages of ages. Amen.


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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 multiple books, you can view here:


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