Today Is the Most Important Day of This Year
Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24
Christ is Risen!
 
The day after Pascha is a very important day in your life! Why? Because it sets the tone for the rest of your year until next Lent. There is no church today. There is no huge gathering of Christian friends. There isn’t going to be the uplifting spiritual experience in church that we’ve had for the past week. In fact, for many, including me, today is actually kind of depressing. The long, awesome journey is over, and to be honest, some of us have a big letdown after Holy Week. 
 
That’s why today is critical. Most of us have to go back to work. We’ve got kids to drop off at school. We’ve still got the problems we had before Holy Week. The good thing is that we’ve just received an infusion of spiritual strength to deal with our daily challenges. The challenges is that our daily frustrations will still be there. 
 
When we sang “Let all things begin anew in the Light of the Resurrected Christ,” it didn’t mean that all of our problems got wiped out. It means that we have new lenses through which to see our challenges. Hopefully in the last week, we have gained a new lens of forgiveness, a new lens of optimism, a new lens of hope. Hopefully we have received an infusion of patience as well. 
 
So, today, when you have the urge to say something unkind, be purposeful in refraining from that. When you have the urge to cut someone off in traffic, be purposefully patient. When you have the urge to snap at someone, resist that. If the Resurrection was a sign of Christ healing the fissure between us and Him, we should use the Resurrection as an opportunity to heal the fissures between us and Him and us and one another. 
 
For the next forty days, we will greet each other with the words “Christ is Risen” and we will respond with “Truly He is risen.” Will we faithfully do this? Or will the joy of the Resurrection quickly pass from our lips as well? I use the Paschal greeting in all correspondence and I try to answer the phone the same way, even when I know the caller isn’t Orthodox. It is a small and simple way to keep Christ in the conversation, in the consciousness. 
 
Christ is Risen, and that matters. That matters for our whole life. As we read in the Gospel of John at the Resurrection, which is the scripture quote, “to as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God.”  When our parents took us out to dinner for our birthdays, or did special things for us, we were grateful. Gratitude seems very fleeting in the world today. Someone does something for us, and we think almost immediately what else will they do for us? If the first sin was ingratitude, then we have to offer the Paschal greeting with a sense of gratitude. More important, we have to live the reality of Christ’s resurrection with gratitude. 
 
To say, “Christ is Risen but I’m still going to pick a petty fight with my spouse, or my coworker or with someone” doesn’t fit.
 
Neither does “Christ is Risen and I will be a maniacal driver.”
 
Or “Christ is Risen but I’m going to make people nervous every time they see me.” 
 
Or “Christ is Risen and nothing is going to change in my life from two weeks ago.” 
 
Christ is Risen and that matters. Christ is Risen and that calls us to change. Christ is Risen and that calls us to action. Christ is Risen and that calls us to continue to grow TOWARDS Him. 
 
Last week, you set aside extra time for God. Make sure you set some time aside for Him today, and tomorrow, and every day. 
 
Resurrection Day! O peoples, let us brilliantly shine! Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God has out of death passed us over into life, and likewise from earth to heaven, as we now sing unto Him a triumphal hymn. (From the Matins of the Resurrection, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
 
I invite you to be different today than you were a week ago!

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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 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

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