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
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection, and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:1-5
Do you know who this Scripture passage from Isaiah describes? The person who is being described as despised, rejected, sorrowful and afflicted? The Prophecy of Isaiah, Chapter 53, foretells of the Passion of Jesus Christ. In order for us to be healed, which is the Resurrection, it took a man bearing our griefs and sorrows. Jesus Christ, Whom we now esteem are our Lord and Savior, was once bruised, battered and killed.
Had anyone of us come up on Golgotha two thousand years ago, we almost certainly would not have felt encouraged and uplifted. Without knowing the rest of the story, I’m not sure I would have felt uplifted. Here was a man dying on a cross—the most painful and humiliating way to die, reserved for the worst of the worst of the criminals. Yet, we now know that this seen of pain and suffering paved the way for the greatest triumph in the history of humanity, the Resurrection, which paves the way to salvation for each of us.
A tapestry is a fabric woven by hand that has a picture or design on it. The front side of the tapestry that we see will be a beautiful picture or design, made of threads woven by hand or with a loom. The back side of the tapestry will be all the loose ends of the thread or yarn. While the front side will look beautiful and finished, the back side generally looks unkempt and not in order. If we only saw the back of a tapestry, we would not be impressed. Most likely, we’d be very disappointed. However, when we look only at the front of a beautiful tapestry, we don’t understand the complexities of what lies on the other side.
Had people witnessed the crucifixion, they might have compared it to the back side of a tapestry—lacking beauty, completeness, structure, and order. The Resurrection is the front of our analogous tapestry—it weaves together beauty and glory and hope. When we look at the Resurrection, it may be easy to forget what was on the other side, what was behind the Resurrection. Just like if we look at only the Crucifixion, the Resurrection lacks meaning, we just see a jumbled and painful mess.
In many ways, we are like tapestries. We each have the outward appearance, the place where we might appear beautiful, accomplished and confident. The back side of our tapestry looks entirely different. It looks disorganized and chaotic. If we look at only the front side, we don’t see the whole picture. If we look only at the back side, we don’t see the whole picture either. This is true whether we look at others, and even when we look at ourselves.
There is no person who is completely organized and beautiful like the front of the tapestry. Everyone has some “loose threads” behind their public persona. Likewise, there is no person who has no outward beauty, who is just a mess of disorganization. At least there is no one who has no potential of outward beauty. Just as we all have some chaos and lose ends in our lives, we also each have beauty.
As we wrap up our discussion of helping and being patient, we need to be patient with others, and we need to be patient with ourselves. God created each of us to be a beautiful tapestry, made in His image and likeness, able to project His beauty and glory. Because of our fallen world, there is not one of us who doesn’t have challenges below the surface. This is why things like being part of a community are so important, and why encouragement is so vital. We need others to encourage us, and let us know that they see the front of our tapestry, even when we are focused on the back of it. And we ourselves need to understand both sides of our tapestry, that there can always be a beautiful side and that there will always be a side that needs some work.
Lord, thank You for the joys in my life, the outward manifestations of happiness and hope (list some). Lord, You know the secret hurts of my life. (list some of them) Give me the patience to manage the parts of me that are chaotic and disorganized. Help me to see the good in myself and the good in others. Help me to encourage others to improve their shortcomings that can be managed, and to accept the ones that cannot. Bring others around me who can do the same for me. Amen.
There are two sides to every person. Be encouraged to share the front side, and to see the beauty of the front sides of the tapestries of others. Be encouraged to be patient with the back side, our own and those of others.
These readings are under copyright and are 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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