Monday, January 29, 2018

February 2018

Important Events coming Up

There are several special days on the calendar in the coming weeks. Make a note of them, and take advantage of the opportunity to worship and to enjoy he company of your church family.

Septuagesima (Pre-lent)

This season includes the three Sundays prior to Lent. January 28 is Septuagesima Sunday this year, February 4 is Sexagesima Sunday, and February 11 is Quinquagesima Sunday. These names mean seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, respectively, and indicate the anticipation of Easter by as many days, approximated on the Sunday that falls nearest to the seventieth, sixtieth, or fiftieth day before Easter.

Wednesday, January 31: Candlemas (observed)

February 2nd is Ground-hog’s Day, which is actually “Candlemas.” The legend of the groundhog’s fear of his shadow comes from the fact that candles were lit on that day in the churches as tokens of Christ “a Light to lighten the Gentiles.” The candles were lit because the day was from antiquity called Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of Mary, which comes 40 days after Christmas. This commemorates the day on which the Blessed Virgin came for purification after she gave birth, and to present the Christ Child, according to the law of Moses. The priest Simeon then took Him up in his arms and declared Him “a Light to lighten the Gentiles.” At the Feast of Candlemas, therefore, everyone holds a candle, which is lighted during the Mass, from the Preface through the Consecration, a visually moving way of signifying the high point of the service.

Since Candlemas falls on a Friday this year, we will observe it on Wednesday night, to give more people the opportunity to attend.

Ash Wednesday, February 14:

On this first day of Lent, we will celebrate Mass twice, both at 7 a.m. and at 7 p.m. On both occasions we will observe the imposition of ashes, to mark the first day of this holy season of fasting and prayer.

You may note that this is also Valentine’s Day this year. If you’re in the habit of celebrating Valentine’s Day, a fitting and helpful way to do so without taking away from Ash Wednesday would be to observe it early, say on Tuesday the 13th or the previous weekend.

Lenten Midweek Masses

On the following Wednesdays throughout Lent, we will be paying special attention to Lenten themes, and in addition we are planning soup suppers again, to provide members with an opportunity to visit. Details below.

+ Pastor Eckardt

Renovation News

We are still in the planning stage for the next phase of our renovation, and this will be the most important part of the project. There are many things to consider, and it would be best if we could have a plan in place for all of these things before we begin this phase. Do we want a new altar? What do we want on the wall behind it? Must the canopy go? What about the old speaker? Can we put the apostles’ shields back up in the Great Arch, as we once had them many years ago? Or would that be too ambitious? What about the pulpit and lectern? Where should the communion rail go? Do we put the font in the center? What about the floor? Can we find a statue of St. Paul? There are more questions than these, but it should be clear that this is a rather massive planning stage. It’s not like the first two phases when all we really needed to decide on was a color scheme, and that was hard enough!

Meanwhile, we don’t want to put things off too long, or the momentum dies, and people might start getting discouraged. So we need to press on.

We can learn from what has happened thus far, however. We have more of an idea how much things cost, and how surprisingly inexpensively we were able to do some things. But how much we can raise will still figure in to what we are able to do.

We went with the neo-Gothic theme in which the church was built, and everyone has been pleased thus far.

Our constant prayer is that Almighty God would establish the work or our hands, toward his glory, toward the edification of his people, and toward doing what we can to burnish this church as a place where the grace of God in Christ shines forth as a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel.

+ Pastor Eckardt

Shrove Tuesday February 13th 

On Shrove Tuesday, Pastor will make a special point of being available all afternoon (until 5 pm when Galatians study begins) for confession, on this day traditionally intended for this use to prepare for Lent. 


The season of Lent is a season of emphasis on penitence, in preparation for of Easter. Its span is forty days, like the forty days in which Jesus fasted in the wilderness, in fulfillment of the fast of Moses and Elijah on Mount Horeb.

The Apostles themselves left the specific manner of observance to Christian liberty, saying, “Let each be convinced in his own mind.” Leaving aside the question of what things one should fast from (whether sweets, or meats, or milk products, etc.), what is clear is that the custom of fasting itself is quite biblical. If Moses, Elijah, and Jesus himself fasted, certainly it must be a good practice. Indeed, on Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus saying, When ye fast (not if ye fast!), be not as the hypocrites, etc. Luther’s Small Catechism also declares, “Fasting and other bodily preparation is indeed a fine outward training.” Therefore, we conclude two things: first, that fasting is a good thing, and second, that it is a matter left to Christian liberty.

Liturgically the Church fasts during Lent (as Israel fasted forty years in the wilderness). The color is penitential violet. Alleluias are not sung, and there is less music; flowers are absent, and weddings are not to be scheduled.

During the last two weeks of Lent, statutes, images, and crosses in the churches are veiled, and no Glorias are sung at all, except in the Gloria in Excelsis on Maundy Thursday.

In the midst of this penitential mood there is joy, at Laetare, the fourth Sunday in Lent ( ‘rejoice’). The entire penitential season is not to be sad, but joyful. For true joy of heart, born of the suffering and resurrection of Christ, transcends all parts of Christian life, even the deepest of sorrows, as we confess with David that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Thus the forty days of Lent is followed by a contrastingly festive forty-day season from Easter until Ascension Day.

February Ushers

Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson

February Birthdays

2/2 Mindie Fisher
2/4 Joshua Kraklow
2/5 Tom Wells
2/17 Monroe Kemerling
2/23 Carol McReynolds

February Anniversaries


First Tuesday Events Moved This Month

Pastor and Carol will be in Florida for a few days in early February, so the first Tuesday events (altar guild, vespers, elders) are moved to the second Tuesday, February 13th.


Mary Hamilton is currently with her son in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Emilie Ricknell is at home; Joyce Long is at home; Emmy Wear is at Williamsfield Retirement Center; Dick Melchin is at Hammond-Henry Hospital in Geneseo recovering from cancer surgery.

Altar Guild Notes

Altar color is white until January 28th, Septuagesima Sunday, when it turns to violet. On Wednesday, January 31st, we will observe Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of Mary. Color is white for that day, then reverts to violet.

Color is violet throughout February.

Since Saturday evening masses are no longer being held, the Wednesday crew will need to set up for Sunday, and the weekend crew will only have Sunday duties.

No mass on Wednesday, February 7th. On February 14th (Ash Wednesday), Mass in the morning and again in the evening, at 7:00.

In Our Prayers

Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. Anyone wishing to update the list by addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.

in our parish:
Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Mary Hamilton, Emmy Wear, DeAnne Anderson, Dale Baker, Sue Murphy, Don Murphy, Joyce Long, Steve Peart, Bea Harris, Derrick Baker, Dana McReynolds, Dick Melchin

and also:
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
Jodi Rutowicz [daughter of Harrises]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Jill Matchett [at request of Diana Shreck]
Annie Eastman [at request of Svetlana Meaker]
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
Steve Draminski [friend of Jim Watson]
Kathy Nussear [Joyce Long’s daughter, cancer]
Bud Harfst [Sue Murphy’s brother]
Harold Woods [Sue Murphy’s brother-in-law]
Pam Helmkamp
Dick Heiden [Carol Eckardt’s father]
Pastor Kenneth Wegener
Elizabeth Godke, Sharon Field’s mother
Kathy Hopkins
Jesse Armstrong
Michael Nelson
Brandt and Oneda Hendrickson [John Ricknell’s relatives]
Dean Moss [Chris Erickson’s friend’s father, cancer]
Bob Laskey [friend of Monroe Kemerling]
in the military
John Eckardt
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Thomas Kim [at request of the Shrecks]
Michael Creech [at request of the Murphys]
Katherine Creech [at request of the Murphys]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Carter Wills [grandson of the Thompsons]
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Traven Wetzel [at request of Kris Harden]
Shawn Wetzel
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
Jake Mahaffev

in trouble, especially:

The people of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Chicago
Any unborn children in danger of abortion
Those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Iraq, Syria, Burma, Sudan, North Korea, and elsewhere.

and our own church


From the Catechism:

What is Confession?

Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?

Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?

Soup Suppers Again

Our Lenten soup suppers are being scheduled again, beginning on Wednesday, February 21st. There is no supper scheduled for Ash Wednesday. Suppers are also scheduled for February 28th, March 7th, March 14th, and March 21st. There is no supper scheduled for Holy Week.

We have two volunteers already to provide the supper; there are five weeks in all, so three more are needed.

The crowd is generally small, so be careful not to overdo it.

Council Meeting Cancelled

The February council meeting is cancelled for February because key council members will be away.

Robin Sighting Contest

No robins have been sighted yet. Contact Pastor if you see one, and you might win. The first to see a robin wins an all-expenses-paid 10-day cruise in the Bahamas, or not.

Last year’s winner was Barbra Kraklow.
In 2016 it was Judy Thompson
In 2015, Carol Eckardt
In 2014, Michele Keehner

The robin, of course, is something we regard very highly because it is a sign of spring; and the approach of spring is also the approach of Easter; and the approach of Easter is enough to cause us abiding joy. So rejoice in the robin, o Christian! And report the date and the place of your first sighting to Pastor, and we’ll announce the winner.

2018 Sabre Goes to Rev. John Hill

This year the Sabre of Boldness, an annual award for Christian courage given by the editors of Gottesdienst went to the Reverend John Hill, President of the Wyoming District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The editors of Gottesdienst announced this on Thursday, January 18th. The video of the event is available at

President Hill has been Wyoming District President since 2015. He is recognized as a model of steadfast adherence to confessional standards, especially for his efforts and leadership in his district that called the St. Louis seminary to account for its publication of an article in the Concordia Journal last year virtually promoting Darwinian evolution. The consequent broadside against him was uncalled for and unfortunate, implying that he and his district were wrong to respond to the article to this public error with a public defense of the faith. Although the writer of the article has since retracted his position, there has been no public retraction of the unfair accusations against President Hill. But his devout dedication has nevertheless been solid and marked by careful churchmanship. In receiving the award for him, Revs. Mark and Christian Preus, who reside in his district, referred to him as one of the humblest men they have ever known.

The choice was a most difficult one to make, and the editors noted that there were ample reasons why either of the other two nominees might just as easily have been chosen. The other two nominees were Rev. Fr. Richard "Charles" Wokoma and Rev. Johannes Nieminen.

Fr. Wokoma is the Academic Dean of the seminary for the Lutheran Church of Nigeria and is responsible for the bulk of the teaching to between 80 to 100 seminarians annually. The Lutheran Church of Nigeria has recently been making great strides in returning the LCN to a solid confessional, sacramental, and liturgical foundation. Fr. Wokoma has been bold and faithful in the face of constant potential threats against him because of his confession, guiding the students as both a teacher and mentor. The men become pastors who are as solid and faithful as the best of our confessional young pastors in the Missouri Synod, theologically and liturgically, with full liturgical vestments. This church, moreover, is impoverished church and in need of our help. The South Wisconsin District of the LCMS has been raising funds to support them, and Gottesdienst will be pleased to add our plea to potential donors on their behalf. More information on this is available here.

Rev. Johannes Nieminen is the pastor of Zion and Trinity Lutheran Churches in Melville, Saskatchewan. He has demonstrated steadfast faithfulness over several years, and has been constant in seeking to conform his practice to biblical norms in the various aspects of his ministry. Over the first several years of his ministry he has shown an unbending allegiance to confessional standards in his preaching, writing, and practice that has been pastoral and dedicated.

In addition to this year's recipient and nominees, the editors also wished to express a special word of acknowledgment for a lifetime of faithful labor in Christ to Rev. Fr. Charles Evanson. Fr. Evanson is well-known for his critical and sacrificial efforts toward making Redeemer Lutheran Church of Fort Wayne the confessional and liturgical standard-bearer it is today. Fr. Evanson served as pastor there from 1975 until 2000, . From 2000 until 2015 he then served with diligence and faithfulness overseas, mostly as seminary instructor for the Lutheran Church in Lithuania. A fitting tribute to him was written in 2015 by Concordia Theological Seminary President Lawrence Rast (available here). Fr. Evanson now suffers from A.L.S. and is living in Florida., for their steadfastness in the face of possible deportations, beatings, and threats of death for conversion to Christianity as over a thousand members of the congregation have come from Persia and other Muslim lands to the joy of knowing and being baptized into Christ.

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443