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
LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD
I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Psalm 9:1
Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Ephesians 5: 18-20
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today’s verses of scripture from Ephesians 5 immediately precede a passage on marriage, where St. Paul admonishes wives to “be subject to your husbands as to the Lord” (5:22) and for husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (5:25) This model of marriage is one where husbands and wives serve each other and sacrifice for each other following the example of Christ.
Verses 18-20 give some guidelines for the Christian family, which includes not only husbands and wives but their children. These verses provide a good (and possibly sobering) checklist of things that families should be doing.
Be filled with the Spirit—If the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22), are these traits present in a family on a daily basis. Do children demonstrate these values towards their parents, or in general? Do parents model these values for their children, or with each other?
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs—I’m not suggesting not making conversation around the dinner table. And certainly talking about school, sports and other subjects is allowed. This verse, however, reminds us that we should address one another respectfully, even reverently. If we revere one another, then we won’t address one another with flippancy, or sarcasm. Yes, that includes how teenagers talk to their parents, or how parents may roll their eyes at their teens. A strong family communicates well with one another, is able to disagree respectfully, and is able to be honest. A strong family knows how to forgive and learns from mistakes. Good children show obedience to their parents even when they are not in agreement with them and good parents love their children even when they are angry with them. It goes almost without saying that the good family does pray together as a family, and family members pray for one another privately as well.
Making melody to the Lord with all your heart—A melody to the Lord is sung with harmony, with unity. A good family is a united family. Love reigns. Discord is absent, or kept to a minimum. The family sets family goals and works together as a cohesive unit. Obviously, the parents set the tone, not everyone has an equal voice. However, every voice is important and is heard.
Always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father—There is an overused phrase which says “The family that prays together stays together.” I would actually change that phrase to “The grateful family is the loving family.” Giving thanks for each other and saying that to each other should be a regular part of family life. Children thanking parents, parents thanking children, spouses thanking one another. And it’s not just “Thank you” when they do what you ask, it’s “thank you” for the mundane that we forget to give thanks for.
“Thank you for cooking for us every night.”
“Thank you for driving us to our games.”
“Thank you for keeping the yard clean.”
“Thank you for going to work so we can have clothes and toys.”
“Thank you son/daughter/children for making us laugh. Thank you for respecting us. Thank you for helping around the house. Thank you for being you.”
Thank you notes in lunch boxes or on pillows is a great thing. A thank you letter on Christmas or for a birthday is great too. And this is not just parents writing thank you’s to children, but children writing thank you’s to parents, and spouses writing thank you’s to each other.
Today’s challenge—write a thank you note to everyone who lives in your house. And consider a thank you LETTER from each family member to each family member to end up in each stocking this Christmas!
Thank You Lord, for the gift of family. Thank you for (list the members of your family) and for the specific roles they play in my life. (list those roles—Thank You for my mom who does___, Thank You for my dad who does___) (For those who are married, offer a prayer of thanks for your spouse, and list in your prayer the things you are thankful for). Lord, bless my family with health, with joy, with patience and with love. Make our home a place of joy, where we laugh a lot and we forgive easily. Thank You Lord, for my family. Amen.
Thank your family today!
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