During the weekend of February 12-13, 2022, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph made two pastoral visits to churches in Santa Barbara County, California.
On Saturday night at St. Timothy Church of Lompoc, Sayidna Joseph presided over Great Vespers. At the conclusion of the service, he elevated Deacon Eunice Gordon to the dignity of Protodeacon in honor of his 35 years of service to the Orthodox Church. (photo album)
On Sunday morning at St. Athanasius Church of Santa Barbara, His Eminence presided over Orthros and celebrated the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy. He congratulated Fr. Nicholas Speier upon his retirement as the pastor of the church and his 35 years in the priesthood, as well as Fr. Symeon Halsell upon succeeding Fr. Nicholas. (photo album 1) (photo album 2)
Sayidna Joseph preached about the importance of the priesthood and how it is a blessing from God.
“The bishop is a father before anything else. When we forget, as clergy, that he is a father – and any clergyman is a father – then something is wrong,” His Eminence said. “The human relationship is extremely important. Before any business or talk about anything else, the connection, the friendship, the family mean much more to God and the Church and all of us.”
Sunday marked the beginning of the preparation for the Great Fast and Pascha with our Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and Publican (Luke 18:10-14). “What are we to do and accomplish?” Sayidna Joseph asked. “People may become scared when we talk about repentance and we have to change our attitude, our behavior and our priorities. No, we don’t have to be scared about anything. We have to rejoice because the Church is calling us to healing. And who does not want to heal?”
His Eminence quoted from Sunday’s epistle reading: “All who would live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (II Timothy 3:12).
“Persecuted by who? Thank God, we don’t have any civil war here, or ISIS, or anyone fighting against our freedom,” Sayidna Joseph said. “But the evil one is here. Although we have been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the original sin is gone. But what about everyday sin? Who will handle that? Only the mercy of God can heal us from that. That’s why, beloved in Christ, we keep saying, “‘Lord, have mercy.’”