The Twelve Days of Christmas
WE find ourselves embedded in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas as this newsletter is being distributed and read. The masses and mer-chants of the market-place don’t know much about this, since all the gifts have been ex-changed by Christmas, and therefore there is no longer much incentive to dress the stores in holiday wreaths and bows any longer. But honestly, we can’t blame them for trying to make a living. We do, however, need to recognize the stark difference that sometimes exists between cultural and spiritual observances.
So while much of the Christmasing was going on in the secular spheres during most of December, the Church meanwhile was observing Advent, for the simple reason that the cultural preparations for a big cultural event like Christmas are quite another thing than spiritual preparations for a big spiritual event like Christmas. Christmas is a grand intersection of two major events of the same name. Secular preparations involve the purchasing and wrapping of gifts, cleaning the house, getting ready for company, and so forth. Spiritual preparation involves self-examination and penitence. It also involves the learning of the important discipline of patience. We wait patiently for the coming of the Lord, not only as Advent awaits Christmas, but as the Church awaits Jesus’ return in glory.
So also now that Christmas has arrived, in the period of time after Christmas, we are observing the twelve days of Christmas, while at the same time the secular spheres are finished with their observances. They’re putting away their holiday trappings, but we don’t. The world may be finished with Christmas, but we’re just getting started.
The twelve days of Christmas are only known to most because of the popular carol by that name, though most do not know what twelve days they are. (In case you need to know, they are the twelve days beginning with Christmas Day and leading to the day before Epiphany.)
It’s fitting that we should sing our Christmas carols on Christmas and also on the Sundays after Christmas, and that our big annual choral vespers should always take place after, not before, Christmas. This year, it’s even before Epiphany. So much the better. O come, all ye faithful! Joyful and triumphant!
+ Pastor Eckardt
at St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Every year, St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Kewanee puts on an event you might not expect to hear in a town our size, especially when you consider the small size of their choirs. Our Choral Vespers, besides being a prayer service as vespers always is, is an event of high cultural significance. This is the twelfth year the parish has held this event for the Kewanee community. Their Mixed Choir is small, but with the splendid acoustical setting under the Gothic arches at St. Paul’s, people have often commented that the choir sounds two or three times larger. These are quality singers as well, having sung together for many years, and hence they are able to provide those in attendance with a real musical treat. The choir is under the direction of the church’s pastor, the Reverend Dr. Burnell Eckardt, who has over twenty-five years of experience as a choirmaster and composer. St. Paul’s looks forward to this event every year, as a last opportunity in the year to present some lovely traditional Christmas carols in a setting for which those carols were written.
The evening’s music is always augmented by the parish’s wine and cheese reception in the school cafeteria, another annual tradition. There is no admission fee; a freewill offering will be taken. If there is inclement weather, a snow date is scheduled for Wednesday, January 7th, at 7 p.m.
An Epiphany retreat:
two Days of Theological Reflection: Monday and Tuesday, January 5th and 6th.
For the first time, we are pleased to announce that our January Day of Theological Reflection will actually be two days—two!—of retreat, Monday and Tuesday, the 5th and 6th, from 9:00 – 3:30 (starting each day with Mass at 9, the second day, January 6th, being Epiphany Day), Two Days of Theological Reflection is also scheduled, the tenth retreat in the series. This retreat’s theme is
“A Prophet Like unto Me: The Christology of the Moses and the Exodus.”
We’ll examine the book of Exodus, particularly the first 15 chapters, with an eye to finding Christ there, so that we may declare, as the disciples did, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Admission is free.
1/1 Christine Erickson
1/4 Lucille Kemerling
1/9 Deloris (Mae) Noll
1/13 James Hornback
1/18 Scott Clapper
1/20 Brandon Erickson
1/24 Sarah Eckardt
Steve Peart, Grant Andresen, Larry Campbell
Mary Hamilton at home; Ruth Snider at home; Mark Baker at home, and Anna Baker at home. Jack Stewart 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.
Evelyn Heinrich, age 102, passed away on the 20th of December and was given Christian burial on the 23rd.
Choir Rehearsals during January
Obviously there won’t be Choir on New Year’s Eve: it’s right after our Choral Vespers, and besides, it’s New Year’s Eve! Since our choral vespers is coming up, we need a special choir rehearsal on Tuesday, December 30th, at 7 p.m. It will be our last before the big night. Then we’ll take January 7th off (as we usually do the Wednesday after a big event), and resume rehearsal on the 14th.
Altar Guild Notes
The Altar Guild met on Monday, December 8th. Some calendar adjustments were discussed.
The next meeting is set for January 12th (second Monday) and we will be doing some sewing on the altar linens. Jan is bringing her sewing machine; some will bring pins.
The 2009 Calendar is posted in the sacristy. Some of the ink ran out, so the later Trinity months are bluish green rather than green.
A memo was sent to each Altar Guild member’s mailbox with some other details.
The Lighter Side
JUST LOVE A GOOD PUN
1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because - it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder - and got a little behind in his work.
6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road - and was cited for littering.
8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in - Linoleum Blownapart.
9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
[that one reminds me of this puzzler: Time flies. No man can. They move at irregular intervals.]
11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'
14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'
17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was - a small medium at large.
20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now - a seasoned veteran.
21. A backward poet writes inverse.
22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. - In feudalism it's your count that votes.
23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.
24. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!
Un-Decorating the Church
The removal of the Christmas decorations is scheduled for Saturday, January 10, at 9 a.m. Volunteers are sought!
Our Latest Brochure
The latest update to our brochure is inserted in the newsletter this month. Use it! Take it with you and find someone to give it to, with an invitation to join us as a visitor to St. Paul’s!
The offering envelopes should be available and in your mailbox by December 28th.
Annual Voters’ Meeting
Our Voters’ Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 25st, at 7:30 p.m. Council is scheduled for 7:00, just prior to the meeting. Note the time change.
Keeping the Feast: A Study of the Holy Liturgy (continued)
From the Preface until the Communion
After the Preface, when the celebrant turns toward the altar for the Sanctus, the Mass re-presents the passion of our Lord and His resurrection. The celebrant does not turn again to the faithful until after his own communion. He now enters, as it were, into the secret of the sanctuary, there to treat alone with God, much as Moses did on the mountain, or as the high priest would do in the temple, or ultimately, as those instances foretell, as Jesus did on the cross. He now says the Secret, so-called because he says it in a low voice like Jesus Christ Who, in the Garden of Olives, who moved a stone’s throw away from His disciples, in order to enter into the silence of recollection and prayer.
At the Consecration the celebrant takes the Host into his hands, just as Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, took the bread and wine into His holy and venerable hands. There was a Roman Catholic French cleric, Father Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), who was noted for declaring that here the priest’s words cease, his personality disappears and the voice of Jesus Christ replaces that of His minister. Father Arminjon was right: here the minister is doing his ministering in a most fundamental and Biblical sense.
Hence the celebrant has his back to the people during the Sanctus, the Our Father, the Verba, and his own self-communion, as if
to hide the face of Christ, who died and thus was hidden from His people; but when the celebrant turns to them again for the Pax, saying, “The peace of the Lord be with you alway,” he is essentially repeating the words of Jesus who thus spoke to His disciples in the upper room on the day of His resurrection. Indeed there is a rubric that provides simply that the words “Pax vobiscum (peace be with you),” dropping “of the Lord” when spoken by a bishop, which provides a verbatim repetition of the the words of the risen Lord,
and some early councils (for instance, that of Braga in 563) allowed that both bishops and priests should employ the same form of salutation (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11595a.htm).
Similarly we may note the anecdotal account from Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of the Siberian Lutheran Church of an elderly woman in a remote village in Siberia who, upon gaining form him her first opportunity to receive the Sacrament, whispered to him after the service, “almost literally repeating the words of Saint Simeon (Luke 2:29-30): ‘Through all my life I reamed to meet a Lutheran pastor. Now I can depart in peace because my eyes have seen the Pastor” (Siberian Lutheran Mission Society, Vol. 7.3, December 2008, p. 6).
It is particularly here, when the Holy Elements are consecrated, that the pastor may be seen as a living icon of Jesus.