Tuesday, August 26, 2008

September 2008

The Carole Sanders Story

No one expected her to live this long, let alone improve. But Carole Sanders continues to defy the predictions and prognostications of everyone, whether family or medical personnel.

Several years ago she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a rare lung disease that gradually (so we are told) renders the lungs nonfunctional, bit by bit, as scars continue to replace healthy tissue. We watched her go downhill, just as they said she would. They gave her two years to live at the most.

And so we began to pray for her, as Christians do, both privately and at Mass, for we knew that her dear Lord would deal with her as He saw fit, according to His own unsearchable wisdom and infinite power. With God all things are possible.

Soon she became confined to her home, and unable, except on a rare occasion, to go out. She loved her church, but was now a shut-in. Once in a great while we’d see her in church, if only on a Saturday night when less people are present. Yet her determination to keep up the fight was always evident, as we saw her, oxygen tank and all, approach the altar for the Blessed Sacrament. I could have brought it to her in the first pew, as I customarily do for some who have difficulty walking, but she preferred if at all possible to approach, climb the three steps, and make it to the altar.

Usually she had to receive her communion at home, where her husband Duane waited on her daily, an unflinching if weary angel always at her side. Duane was better for her than any nurse could have been, around the clock, constantly there for her, to be her stay. Months passed. Soon she entered Hospice care. She was losing her breath, she was going downhill. She was dying.

And so our prayers for her continued, even as we continued to expect the inevitable.

But she did not die. Six months passed, and so did the Hospice nurse. They don’t keep people on longer than six months; they’re expected to be dead by that time. And Duane and Carole decided it was easier and cheaper to manage things without Hospice, staying in close touch with medical personnel. I remember opining that none of us has any business predicting when she will die. Only God knows, in spite of what any professionals might think.

So she kept on at home, yet still going downhill. She routinely fell, even though she had a walker, and even though she never had far to walk. She just didn’t have the strength, because she didn’t have the breath. Her lungs were giving out. She fell, and bruised, and once or twice even cracked a bone. Her pain was mitigated some by pain medications, which made her groggy. I remember thinking that I had never seen someone dying so slowly.

Then one day last winter I got a call late in the evening from Duane. He couldn’t wake her. It seemed as though the end was finally at hand. I raced over to the house. Poor Duane was beside himself. We prayed. I brought to bear some of the most comforting passages of Scripture, of psalms, and of hymns. The nurse arrived, as did a family friend or two. After two or three hours, she did not stir, and her breathing was shallow. I had been at deathbeds before. Some days prior, she had already received her last communion, her viaticum, and now we were bidding her farewell. We were bracing ourselves for her last breath. Finally, when several people were keeping vigil, I decided I could leave for awhile, fully expecting to be called back shortly when death was more clearly at hand.

The call never came.

Next morning I puzzled over this, and went back to the house. There she was, to my great surprise, sitting up and smiling at me. Her hour had not yet come. Somehow, miraculously, she had revived during the night. Now doubly I know that nobody knows the hour of death. She had defied all predictions distant and recent. It was already well over the two years they had given her; I think it was almost twice that long. And still she drew her breath, and continued doggedly on.

Winter turned to spring, and spring to summer. My visits settled roughly into a weekly pattern. But my prayers, and the church’s prayers, continued at a daily pace, as ever.

Then came July. Another frantic call brought me out quickly to the house. This time she was losing her mind, quite literally. She was delirious, and completely unlike the Carole I knew. Suddenly she trusted no one but me, yet even I could not reason well with her. It was evident to me that her brain needed more oxygen, as I explained to her distraught husband. She was not herself.

Duane came to realize that she had to be moved, as she would not even let him care for her. This was the last thing this dedicated husband wanted to do; he had promised himself he would not let her live out her days in a nursing home somewhere, yet now he had no choice. It was a heartbreaking and agonizing decision. The years of care, and his labor of love, had taken their toll on him already. He had lost altogether too much weight, and was reduced to a mere shadow of himself. Now, in spite of his valiant determination month after month to continue the marathon, he was faced with defeat. Poor Duane! Poor Carole!

Yet we continued to pray, daily.

Then, in the past several weeks, something astounding began to happen. We had thought the move to Toulon Health Care would be the last straw. Perhaps it was for this reason, because every earthly prop had given way, that all at once things changed. She began the transformation from someone who was dying to someone who was living. Every time I saw her, which at first was daily, she was better than the time before. Not only was she no longer dying, she began improving, to the amazement of everyone. This was not supposed to happen. So extraordinary is her progress that even Duane, who visits her daily, is again gaining weight and strength.

Today Carole Sanders is again in her right mind, having not only accepted her lot in life, but rejoicing continually in the mercy of her Savior. Jesus has been with her, not only to comfort, but to strengthen both in body and soul. In therapy she walks farther than they tell her to walk. She is no longer waiting to die. She is living and breathing, and improving daily. She even hopes to return home some day, and to start coming to church again. Her remarkable convalescence to date really gives her no reason to expect otherwise. I can scarcely believe my eyes.

To be sure, it doesn’t generally happen like this. Faithful Christians die daily; they fall asleep in Jesus, and we mourn their loss, with the assurance that, as St. Paul has said, if in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable. So we don’t despair when earthly things are passed; we know of a life of the world to come; we know Jesus the Crucified, who was raised from the dead, and lives and reigns to all eternity. And we know we shall reign with Him. So we learn not to sorrow as others who have no hope, no matter whether we live or die. And we learn that this life is a vale of tears. Disease strikes and mortality makes itself known to us all.

Yet once in a while our Lord deigns to remind us, in sometimes remarkable ways, that He is in command of all things, and that He does indeed hear our prayers. In Him we live and move and have our being. And so it is that He has determined in His wisdom and mercy that it is not time for Carole Sanders to die. Not yet. In fact, she’s even showing signs of beginning to thrive.

If you wish to pay her a call, feel free. She’ll gladly visit with you and tell you all these things herself. She is a living miracle, and reminder to us all that our God is always able to do abundantly more than we either ask or think.

+ Pastor Eckardt

Announcing the Thirteenth Annual
Second Annual Liturgical Seminar

St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Kewanee, Illinois
October 12-14, 2008 (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday)

Conference theme: A Tale of Two Synods

This year we are pleased to welcome four guests who have in recent years taken the walk across the rickety bridge from Wisconsin to Missouri.

Several years ago the Reverend Fr. Peter Berg, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Chicago, having been removed from the roster of the WELS, was received into the LCMS. This year his brother, the Reverend Fr. John Berg, pastor of Hope Ev. Lutheran Church in Fremont, California, has taken the same trek. In the meantime the Reverend Fr. Aaron Moldenhauer, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Beecher, Illinois, made the same move during his seminary training. He will be accompanied by his wife Tabitha, a scholar in her own right, who will provide a confessional Lutheran perspective on women’s issues. This year both Berg brothers became associate editors of Gottesdienst, and Fr. Moldenhauer received the journal’s Sabre of Boldness award for 2008.

Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. is our Autumn Choral Vespers, followed by our annual bratwurst banquet (we call it the best party in town!). Then on Monday morning, following Holy Mass at 9:30, the Oktoberfest seminar runs until 3:15 p.m.

On Tuesday, a liturgical seminar is again planned for a roundtable discussion seeking uniformity in our worship practices. Informed Lutheran clergy are particularly invited to provide input and exchange of ideas, although all are invited to stay for the day.

Lodging: AmericInn, 4823 US Hwy 34. 800-634-3444
Super 8 Motel, 901 S Tenney (Rt 78). 309-853-8800
Aunt Daisy’s B&B, 223 W Central Blvd. 888-422-4148
Kewanee Motor Lodge, 400 S Main St. 309-853-4000
Days Inn, I-80 & Rt 40, Sheffield. 815-454-2361
Holiday Inn Express, I-80 & Rt 78, Annawan. 309-935-6565

REGISTRATION: $25 per person (students $20) $40 per couple — includes Sunday banquet and Monday continental and luncheon; no charge for children with parents.

email the information to eckardt@kewanee.com, or call 309-852-2461.

Wife’s first name if applicable
Attending (check all that apply): Sun, Mon, Tue

Our flower lady is Trista Schoen, who has provided a flower chart for members to sign. If you wish to provide flowers for any particular weekend, check the chart and sign up. Your signature means that you will provide the flowers for that weekend, whether by contacting a florist, or by providing your own arrangement. If you wish to provide your own, please speak to Trista about how to do this.
July and August Ushers
July: Steve Peart, Grant Andresen, Larry Campbell
August: Otis Anderson, Scott Clapper, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson

September Anniversaries

9/18/1976 Tom and Sue Ann Wells
9/24/1977 Dennis and Janice Schoen

September Birthdays

9/1 John Ricknell
9/1 Laticia Van Stechelman
9/6 Alice Rosenberger
9/9 Barbara Murphy
9/10 Jan Schoen
9/15 Charles Russell
9/17 Mary Beth Jones
9/18 DeAnne Anderson
9/19 Jaclyn Kraklow
9/19 Jamie Kraklow
9/24 Stephanie Davis
9/26 Duane Sanders
9/28 Allan Kraklow

Rally Day September 7

A new Sunday school session begins, new midweek catechesis, and new adult Bible Class: St. Matthew. Plenty of opportunities await!

Shut ins

Carole Sanders at Toulon Health Care; Mary Hamilton at home; Jack Stewart, and Evelyn Heinrich at Kewanee Care; Mirilda Greiert at Courtyard Estates; Elva Garrison at Avon Nursing Home; Ruth Melchin at Hillcrest Home; Jane Melchin at Lutheran Home, Peoria., Mark Baker at home, and Anna Baker (temporarily) also at home.

First Monday Vespers

This service, held on the first Monday of every month, includes as a special focal emphasis prayers for this parish and her members. In September it is moved to the second Monday, due to Labor Day. Anyone may attend this service, which normally lasts about 20 minutes.

The schedule for September 8th:
6 pm Altar Guild meets in Conference Room
6:45 Vespers (open to all)
Following Vespers: Elders meet

Altar Guild Notes

The Altar Guild met on Monday, August 11th. Among items discussed was the desire of the women to find a way to beautify our chancel. No one seems to like the large vertical panels on the wall. It was suggested that if we should get to the point of seriously considering their removal, the entire congregation should be involved, at a future voters’ assembly.

Crystal Stoll Recovering

Early this summer Crystal (now living in Kenosha, Wis.) had a little fall, and after tests learned that she had a fracture in her pelvic bone, for which no surgery could be helpful. She has been taking meds for pain and slowly healing at home. It’s been a tough summer, but she’s doing better now, hoping soon to get off the pain medication altogether. If you’d like to give her a call, the number is (262) 551-7635.

Junior Catechism on Saturdays
Beginning September 13th, the Saturday after Rally Day, Catechism class will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Anyone is welcome to join us.

Keeping the Feast: A Study of the Holy Liturgy (continued)
The history of the liturgy
Gregory the Great

St. Gregory was the Bishop of Rome from AD 590-604, and is remembered most of all for his codifying and reform of the Roman Mass. His Mass stayed constant for Rome until Vatican II in the 20th century, a truly remarkable thing. Much controversy still exists as to the exact extent of Gregory’s reforms of the Roman Liturgy, but all admit to certain changes he ordered (for instance, he ordered that the Our Father be recited before the breaking of the bread rather than afterwards).

A millennium later, the sixteenth-century Council of Trent affirmed Gregory’s Mass, which has given to it the name “Tridentine,” literally, “pertaining to Trent.” The Roman Tridentine Mass, also called the “Latin Mass,” is really Gregory’s. Although in the 1960s, Vatican II made some rather wholesale changes, there remains a healthy regard and desire among many of the people for a revival of the Tridentine Mass, for which Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 began to make provisions.

The Lutheran rite, as it is found in The Lutheran Hymnal, and in Lutheran Service Book, is based on the Tridentine Mass, that is, St. Gregory’s Mass, though of course not in Latin. Nor is it by any means identical. Luther’s own conservative reforms are incorporated. Yet it is helpful to know the basis upon which our masses rests, since it is often that our own rubrics and altar books do not provide details we would like to see when planning the service or learning our own conduct of the liturgy. For these we look beyond them to the tradition, and that we find in the Tridentine Mass of Gregory.

This is an important thing to know, for if we relied solely on what is specifically “Lutheran” in name, we would not only be true to what is Lutheran in spirit (since our Lutheran forefathers made it their point to keep what was laudable and edifying wherever they could), but would be left with a less than complete understanding of the conduct of the liturgy. True Lutherans seek to be catholic in outlook, that is, having an eye to the universal conduct of the Church of all time.

So we hold St. Gregory in high regard. Not only did he codify and catalog the liturgy of his time for posterity, but he was himself a conservative reformer, taking what he had and making adjustments for the good of the people, yet always with an eye to preserving the integrity of the tradition he had received. The same may be said of Martin Luther.

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

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