The Office of Communications of the Diocese of the Midwest is pleased to announce that we will be offering weekly reflections during this holy season by our Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Jannakos. These brief meditations can provide an Orthodox Christian with assistance in seeking more time with God in silence and stillness.
FIFTH MONDAY OF LENT
“Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the Oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord.” (Gen 13:38).
After the deluge, Noah built an altar and made a single sacrifice of thanksgiving. But at the Oaks of Mamre, Abram learns how to trust in the Lord by making offerings to God. Abram sacrifices himself wholeheartedly to God. Because of this, Abram receives the first of the Lord’s great promises, the birth of a son. His faith will be tested and Abram will fail, miserably even. But Abram perseveres.
Wondrous things happen to those who sacrifice to God.
Have you built an altar for the one, true God?
FIFTH TUESDAY OF LENT
“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.” (Gen 15:12).
Abram kept vigil for the Lord and was given a great revelation. Yet this revelation came to him in “fear” and “darkness.” It was not the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, but another kind of darkness – the darkness of being overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord. As the naked eye cannot look upon the rays of the sun without being blinded, so the light of the Lord’s glory overwhelms the eye of the human heart.
Abram waited patiently for God to act.
Do you keep vigil for the word of the Lord?
FIFTH WEDNESDAY OF LENT
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Gen 17:5).
Those who know God are given a new name. How sad it is that many people don’t know their true name. So they labor to “make a name for themselves” by accepting the false labels of others. But, like Abraham, those who come to the Lord in faith receive a new name from Him that contains the mystery of one’s identity. Abram receives a new name, “Abraham,” the one who will be “the father of many nations.”
The “who” must always come before the “do.”
Do you still hold on to labels?
FIFTH THURSDAY OF LENT
“Then Abraham said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose ten should be found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.’” (Gen 18:32).
The Lord recompenses men according to their deeds. The fact that this is not a popular teaching does not make it any less true. The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for their inhospitality and immorality. Abraham’s nephew Lot gave refuge to the angels and was saved as a result. Fleeing from Sodom to the safety of the city of Zoar, his wife turned her back upon the destruction of the cities and became a pillar of salt.
Lot fled from Sodom as from a burning house.
Have you fled to the refuge-city of Zoar?
FIFTH FRIDAY OF LENT
“God Himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Gen 22:8)
The Lord is jealous of the human heart. In order for love to be true, the heart must become single. Abraham showed such a single love by sacrificing his “only son, Isaac.” And the Lord “stayed his hand” by preventing the slaughter. But a more perfect offering of obedience was made on another mountain. What God the Father didn’t ask Abraham to do on Moriah, He Himself did on Golgotha.
Every believer will be put to the test.
Is there someone you love more than God?
FIFTH SATURDAY OF LENT
“And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered Him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And He charged them to tell no one about Him.” (Mark 8:29).
The world will never know who Jesus is. Some will see Him as a rabbi, others as a prophet, and others as an “imposter.” Many exempt themselves from being challenged to change, should they see Him as He truly is, as the Son of God made flesh. Confessing Christ as the “Messiah,” the Father’s Anointed One, can only happen by grace. “For no man can call Jesus ‘Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3).
Christians confess Christ on a daily basis.
Is your whole life a declaration of His love?
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
“But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43, 44).
But it shall not be so among you – this is as forceful as the Lord gets. The Lord insists that those who follow Him must not compromise themselves to a worldly understanding of power and glory. As the Lord of Glory Himself, He will soon turn everything about power and glory on its head. The weakness, lowliness, and sacrifice of the Cross will become the only power, glory and influence that soon matters.
How do you measure greatness?
How low can you go?