19 April 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (11) 19 April 2023

The Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsemes, east of Rethymnon (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This is the second week of Easter and Sunday (16 April 2023) was Easter Day in the calendar of the Orthodox Church.

Today (19 April), the calendar of the Church of England remembers Saint Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred in 1012.

Before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. As this is Easter Week in the Orthodox Church, I am reflecting each morning this week in these ways:

1, Short reflections on an Orthodox church in Crete;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The twin churches in Platanias and Tsesmes:

I have been visiting Rethymnon almost annually since the mid-1980s, and I have stayed in the suburban areas of Platanias and Tsesmes, east of Rethymnon, since 2015. This area is a mix of suburban, commercial, and slowly developing tourism.

The shops and supermarkets cater primarily for the local residents, but there are a number of small hotels and apartment blocks where I have stayed, including La Stella, Varvara’s Diamond, and Julia Apartments, and restaurants where I can expect a warm welcome year after year.

These two villages have merged almost seamlessly, and although they have two churches, they form one parish, served by one priest, Father Dimitrios Tsakpinis.

These churches are recently-built parish churches: the Church of the Holy Trinity (Αγία Τριάδα) in Platanias dates from 1959 and the Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes from 1979. The church in Platanias is just 100 metres south of long sandy beach that stretches for kilometres east of Rethymnon.

These two churches are small, and in many ways, unremarkable, compared to the older, more historic churches in the old town of Rethymnon. But when I have stayed in Platanias and Tsesmes, I have seen them as my parish churches, and I have always been welcomed warmly. Perhaps I may even get back to see them again later this year.

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Platanias, east of Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 16: 24-26 (NRSVA):

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?’

Inside the Church of the Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Safeguarding the Integrity of Creation.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by USPG’s Regional Manager for East Asia, Oceania and Europe, Rebecca Boardman, who reflected on ways to get the climate justice conversation started, in the light of this week’s International Earth Day.

The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (19 April 2023) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for leaders of church communities. May they create time and space for their communities to meet together to explore safely issues that challenge and perturb.


Merciful God,
who raised up your servant Alphege
to be a pastor of your people
and gave him grace to suffer for justice and true religion:
grant that we who celebrate his martyrdom
may know the power of the risen Christ in our hearts
and share his peace in lives offered to your service;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God our redeemer,
whose Church was strengthened by the blood of your martyr Alphege:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ’s sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Divine Liturgy in Aghia Triada Church in Platanias (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Sunset at Pavlos Beach behind Aghia Triada Church, with the Fortezza and Rethymnon to the west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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