A word from Father

Pastoral Greetings from Father John

at the Beginning of the Church Year

September 1, 2017

Bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness, O Lord!  (Ps 65:11)

Dear Parishioners, Friends and Family of St. Kliment Ohridsky,

May the Lord bless the work of our hands and prosper us throughout the coming year!

A year ago last August our beloved Archbishop Alexander directed me to the parish of St. Kliment to serve as your parish priest and pastor in a time of difficult transition. Leading you in Divine worship in our temple these last thirteen months in peace, I rejoice that the Gospel and Holy Gifts of Christ’s Body and Blood have been entrusted to me to feed you, my flock in Christ, and that you have received them and me with joy and love. Gathering faithfully every Sunday at eleven o’clock in our temple, those who would be saved receive Christ in the hearing of his Holy Gospel and bodily in Holy Communion of his Body and Blood. Our collective work of liturgical worship is a collaborative effort; so far we have been blessed with the support of Popodia Medea as reader and chanter for the Divine services. But we welcome all comers who wish to enrich our worship with their own labors and always encourage full liturgical participation of the people in our services, to respond with their “Lord, have mercy,” “and with thy spirit.” and “Amen”. To encourage the people’s audible spiritual participation in worship, we proffer Divine Liturgy chapbooks in English and Slavonic at the candle stand in the narthex. With the change to my rectorship, you have been hearing a different shepherding voice in church. I strive to accommodate you liturgically with some Slavonic and invite you to dedicate your own personal gifts to Christ’s Church, encouraging you to sing the people’s parts of the Divine Liturgy in Slavonic.

To serve as your shepherd, I have to earn your trust through my faith toward you my flock. I pray that I do not offend any of you with my words, manner or deeds. I beg your forgiveness if I have bruised any of your feelings. As your pastor I strive to serve not only as a liturgist but as counselor in spiritual and personal matters, sworn to confidentiality, never to reveal a word confessed in my presence. Please invite me to bless your homes at Theophany/Bogoyavlennie and throughout the year so that I may see you and hear from you in your own context. The work of the Church does not end at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon but continues all week, every week of the year. We have much work to accomplish together in the rebuilding of our parish. Please help me to be a better priest by being fully involved parishioners.

I would be remiss as your pastor if I was not frank with you my reason-endowed flock, to alert you to challenges we face together as a parish. We need more people participating at every Divine Liturgy, to be present at the beginning when the Kingdom of God is announced, to hear the Gospel and partake of the Holy Gifts. This ministry of Divine worship is the spiritual mainstay of the Christian people, who depend on the Word of God to prosper and the Body and Blood of Christ to live. I daresay neglect of the primacy of Church participation in our lives has led many to ruin and threatens the future of St. Kliment as it would any parish. Also, St. Kliment’s needs more committed stewards to bolster parish finances, which have been badly eroded. For this reason I appeal to all of you to dedicate a tithe of your wealth and abilities to the support of your Orthodox parish. Please consider how the Church of Christ has always made its way forward in the world, paid with prayerfully considered gifts to God by the people who call on Him in their need. The people who know that their lives depend on God are thus free with their gifts of first-fruits to Him. Anyone who does not give back to God the requisite offering of a tithe (one tenth of his income) is in effect saying, “ I do not depend on God and thus I owe Him nothing of what I call mine.” Let us therefore rededicate ourselves to Christian living and giving now during this Feast of the New Year in Christ, as the Lord says,

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal;

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal:

For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.

(Matthew 6:21)

So this month, at the top of the Church Year, put your faith in God, put your heart into your membership in Christ in your home parish of St. Kliment with a sacrificial offering to keep the parish in good financial stead. Please offer a yearly or monthly tithe of your income to the church that keeps its doors open for your spiritual needs, whose priest is ready to help you at any time.

Lastly, I share a new positive development with you. Because of a special cash gift made to our parish just this last Sunday by a generous God-sent newcomer to our Liturgy at St. Kliment’s, we have been directed to purchase a web domain, and now have for the first time, an online presence in a parish web site, at

stkliment.org

Our parish website presents our community as a Christian witness to the whole world online, where we can reach a growing number of searchers for Christ, Who is the unique source of the Truth and the beauty that resides in the Orthodox faith. There are families seeking us who thus far have not known that we exist, and now will be able to locate us as a suitable community in which to grow spiritually in the worship of God in Spirit and in Truth. Our corner of Hollywood is illumined by the light of Christ and we Orthodox are the ambassadors of Christ to the world:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good worls, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

(Matthew 5:15–17)

I look forward eagerly to the work we undertake together in Christ in this coming year; as God surely blesses us to go forward in confidence to preach the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection, let us cast aside every fear and all doubt, and greet each other instead with the kiss of peace, knowing that we are all being saved by his mighty acts, and that in us, He is drawing the whole world into his net.

Your servant in Christ,

Fr. John Beal

Priest-in-charge, St Kliment Ohridsky Bulgarian Orthodox Church

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