2015-04-12 00.15.46 Welcome to St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL!

Christ is Risen!

Holy Week and Pascha photos are available here.

A Message from Father Stavros, Pascha 2015

For every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from You the Father of Lights.  James 1:17

This verse of scripture, James 1:17, is also found in a prayer that is offered at the end of every Divine Liturgy.  In Genesis 1:1-5, we read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was moving over the waters, and God said ‘Let there be Light,’ and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, and the darkness He called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

From this gift of Light, the first thing God created, came all the other gifts.  In the ensuing days of creation, God made the water and the land, the plants and the trees, the sun, moon and stars, the birds and the fish, the animals, and lastly He created us.  We are the crowning jewel in His creation because we are created to be like God.  How is that?  Because God put the Light, the first thing He created, in each of us.  We will hear in the Gospel a little later, that this Light is in every person who comes into the world, that this Light shines in the darkness and no darkness can overtake it. 

If there is any darkness in your life, it can be overtaken by the Light of Christ. Sometimes we get so busy with things that we forget, as someone told me recently, that the whole point of the operation is sanctification. We are each on a journey, and God’s intention for our journeys is to end up with Him.  Each of us makes our respective journey differently—different life experiences, different talents, as unique as each of us. 

The blessings that God has so richly poured over us present us with the opportunity for the greatest blessing of all—the ability to repent and change into a more Christ-like person.  Life’s struggles hopefully point us towards a need for more of Christ and less of us.  Even on the worst day, the Light of Christ can inspire us to press on towards the prize set before us. 

I pray that tonight, the Light of Christ will fill you with hope and joy and lighten the heavy burdens we all carry.  I pray that the Light of Christ will allow us to see with new eyes—whether it be seeing the faith with new eyes, or life in general, whether it be seeing a relationship, a goal or a challenge, or even our successes.  The Light of Christ is what puts gratitude in our hearts, peace in our souls, wisdom in our minds, and kindness in our mouths. 

So much of life is spent looking for the perfect gift—just look at what we’ve made out of Christmas and birthdays.  We spend so much effort to find the perfect home, the perfect car, the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect college, and we always end up disappointed, because we find that no home, no car, no job, no spouse, no college and nothing else is perfect.  The perfect gifts are the ones you can’t put a price on—love, joy, peace, sincerity, patience—these are the perfect gifts.  And these gifts cannot be bought or attained on our own.  They are made possible through the Light of Christ.  And when we falter in any of them, the Light of Christ is what helps us find our way back.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, (18:20) For where two or three gather in His name, there He stands in the midst of them.  When two people gather and pray together, they experience a moment of perfection.  When many people unite their thoughts, their prayers and their actions, in something that is noble and pure, they experience perfection. 

In a moment, you will again receive the Light of Christ.  The calendar will flip to a new day—we will leave Lent and enter again the joy of the Resurrection.  We will leave today and enter tomorrow, the first day of a new week.  And we will celebrate the first day of a new creation, by receiving the first gift that God gave His creation at its beginning—the gift of Light.  The challenge for us is, will we see this Light  merely as a ritual we Orthodox do each year, or will we receive it as a good and perfect gift?  Will the second and third and fourth days of the week be like the second day of creation—an addition to the Light—or will they be as if this first day didn’t happen. 

We will hear shortly again the verse from Psalm 118:24—This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice in and be glad in it.  We are invited to rejoice, reaffirm, renew, and restart.  Let us come and receive the Light that no darkness can overtake with gratitude, with conviction and faith in what this Light represents, with commitment to making a new start, with joy in our Lord, and with hope in our eternal future.  Come and receive the good and perfect Gift that comes from Above, the unwaning Light of the Resurrected Christ.  I pray that it will shine brightly in your life today, tomorrow and throughout this coming year.  Come receive the Light from the everlasting Light, and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead.

 St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the one, Holy and catholic and apostolic church.

The church shall seek to fulfill its mission by:

  • Embracing the Spiritual Life of the Orthodox Church through regular prayer, worship and frequent participation in the sacraments.
  • Supporting the Church through stewardship of time and talent and sacrificial giving.
  • Providing a welcoming, caring, loving environment.
  • Having its members exemplify Orthodox Christian character and morals.
  • Supporting ministries that facilitate the overall mission of the Church.
  • Exemplifying commitment to community service and charitable outreach.
  • Creating an environment which encourages members to grow in their faith.

May God Bless you and give you strength!

Sunday Orthros 8:45 a.m.
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10 a.m.

For more details and locations of these events and other events happening at St. John’s please visit our calendar and check out The Messenger here.

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