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
The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6: 24-26
Good morning Prayer Team!
Let us pray to the Lord.
Lord have mercy (3). Father give the blessing.
May the blessing of the Lord and His mercy come upon you through His divine grace and love for mankind, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
[Before discussing the part of the Divine Liturgy called “The Dismissal,” I would like to note that any extra services—a memorial service, artoklasia (blessing of the five loaves), the procession of the Holy Cross, the procession of the Icons on Sunday of Orthodoxy, the blessing and other services—take place at this point of the Divine Liturgy. These services are not part of the Divine Liturgy, but when appropriate, they are appended to the service at this point. And when there is no such service, the Divine Liturgy continues.]
The Divine Liturgy began with the words “Blessed is the Kingdom. . .now and forever.” The intention of the Divine Liturgy is to bring us into the Kingdom of God in the here and now, allowing us a break from our stressful lives in order to experience His Kingdom. With the service now drawing to a close and with the worshippers now preparing to leave the Kingdom and reenter the world, the priest offers a blessing to the people, praying that the Lord’s blessings will come upon the people who have offered the service. And not only blessings, but also mercy. Mercy is a type of healing that comes from God, giving to us blessings we do not deserve.
God’s blessings come upon us in many ways. This line of the Liturgy reminds us of two of them. We receive God’s grace and mercies through His love, the love that God had when He created the world, when He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to redeem the world from its fallen state And we receive His grace when He sends the Holy Spirit to us each time we call upon Him, to consecrate the Gifts we have offered.
Not only is the Kingdom of God blessed, both now and forever, but we who have entered the Kingdom by coming to the Divine Liturgy receive a blessing. And this line of the Liturgy affirms for us that we carry that blessing out into the world, into our daily lives that are about to resume.
Many people, in my opinion, underuse the word “blessed.” When we look at life through a lens of negativity, we tend to think that others are blessed more than us. Have you ever paused to think “I am truly blessed because I have been blessed by God?” I wonder how many of us think that, because I realize that I don’t pause and think about this. Many times I compare my blessings to what I perceive are the greater blessings of others, rather than thanking God for His unique blessings that He has given to me.
I am blessed to be alive. I am blessed to have a family. I am blessed to have a home. I am blessed to have friends, to have a job, to have a car to drive. Many times we think that others have a better family or a better home or a better job or a better car. I try to thank God for what I have, recognizing that everything good that I have is a blessing from Him.
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exult His name together. Psalm 34:1-3
Thank God for His blessings today!
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