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
Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, Thou greatly enriches it; the river of God is full of water; Thou providest their grain, for so Thou hast prepared it. Psalm 65:9
Editor’s Note: Unless otherwise noted, the Bible translation used on the Prayer Team is the Revised Standard Version (RSV). This is because the RSV is a “public domain” translation of the Bible and there is no need for permission to quote it in publication. The language, at times, especially in verses like today’s may seem archaic. I wanted to provide the reason why this is the translation that is always used.
There is certainly a lot to be anxious about these days—the overall health of our country, as well as its economy; as well are our personal health and finances. There are tough choices about whether to go back to school or not. The uncertainty of everything wears on us. Many of us are actually bored.
In the midst of all of this, it is easy to forget to be thankful. There is so much to be thankful for. We can start with the simplest of things, like water. We can live without a lot of things, but we can’t live without clean water, and in many parts of the world, clean water is not available. While there are too many people in our country that don’t have enough food, most people who are reading this message have food enough and to spare. While I may be concerned about our son going back to school, I’m not concerned about the electricity that powers this computer. While I am concerned about when and how our church will come out of this, as I’m typing this message, there is a roof over my head and air conditioning that keeps me comfortable. I’ve got a family that cares for me and helps me, and I’ve got many friends I can call on, as well as a phone to call them on.
I’m writing on thanksgiving today because it is something we can’t forget to be, even in the present crisis. We’ve discussed this several times that there is a link between “grace” (in Greek “haris”) and “thanksgiving” (in Greek, “ef-haris-tia”). Being thankful is actually an act of faith. If faith is believing in what we can’t fully see or comprehend, being thankful is being joyful for what we have, even in the times when we are lacking something. Philippians 4:11 reminds us “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” This is why it is a spiritual exercise, and a reflection of our faith, to feel thankful and content, even with so much uncertainty around us. Because despite so much uncertainty around us, there is so much that we can be certain of, and still so much to be thankful for. And despite the fact that we’ve all lost some things this year, there is still so much that we have.
I encourage you to take a few moments and write down a list of ten things you are thankful for today. Perhaps these are ten things that haven’t changed since the pandemic began—like the water, electricity and air conditioning in my house haven’t been affected for even one minute since the pandemic began. Put this list somewhere you can see it, so you can be reminded even when you are frustrated, that there is still so much to be thankful for.
Praise is due to Thee, O God, in Zion; and to Thee shall vows be performed, O Thou who hearest prayer! To Thee shall all flesh come on account of sins. When our transgressions prevail over us, Thou dost forgive them. Blessed is he who Thou dost choose and bring near, to dwell in Thy courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, Thy holy temple! By dread deeds Thou dost answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation, who art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of the farthest seas; who by Thy strength hast established the mountains, being girded with might; who dost still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples; so that those who dwell at earth’s farthest bounds are afraid at Thy signs; Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, Thou greatly enriches it; the river of God is full of water; Thou providest their grain, for so Thou hast prepared it. Thou waterest its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. Thou crownest the year with Thy bounty; the tracks of Thy chariot drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they should and sing together for joy. Psalm 65
Be thankful today!
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
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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