THE GOSPEL IN ITS PURITY
Sometimes a false sense of piety causes people to say, or think, that we ought not be too quick about saying that we have the Gospel in its purity here. Who are we, the reasoning goes, to make such a claim? The reason this reasoning is false is that it rests on another falsehood, namely the false presupposition that the Gospel is something we have put together, or even that its purity among us is our own doing, or our own preaching. It is not. The Gospel is pure gift, in every sense of the word. Not only is the fact that Christ the incarnate Son of God has done the work of our salvation (the substance of the Gospel) pure gift, but also the very fact that we believe this is pure gift. Our faith is a gift. So also whenever a pastor preaches the Gospel, that is a gift as well. We may take no credit at all, either for pure preaching, or right believing, or right worship, or the work of salvation which Christ accomplished for us. It is all purely His gift.
This is in essence what we confess in the Third Article of the Creed. For when we say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we immediately follow with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely, “the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” None of these things is in any way the result of anything we have done.
This is why the Small Catechism, in explaining the meaning of the Third Article of the Creed, says, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel,” etc. To confess the Holy Spirit is to confess Him as the Giver of the Gospel and the one who causes us to believe it.
Hence it is entirely appropriate for us to say that in our midst the Gospel is proclaimed in its purity. This is not boasting in ourselves; it is the very opposite. We are not pure; the Gospel is pure. We are not worthy in ourselves; the Gospel bestows upon us the worthiness of Christ. And knowing this is what makes us glad to be members of His Church, and active in it.
Even locally, here at St. Paul’s, we are bold to say that our primary reason for being members and participating in worship here is that here the Gospel is preached in its purity. This is a heavenly gift for which none of us dare take credit. It is also a point to remember whenever we have opportunity to invite friends to come visit our parish and see, or rather, hear, for themselves. It is the Gospel’s power that has attracted us to Christ and made us His own; and that same power is present for everyone who hears.
In a society so filled with aimlessness and emptiness, we will do well to offer what we have: the Gospel in its purity.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Announcing the Fourteenth Annual
Third Annual Liturgical Seminar
St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Kewanee, Illinois
October 11-13, 2009 (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday)
Conference theme: Not a Matter of Indifferent Things
This year we are pleased to welcome as our guests the three men who have most recently joined the staff of Gottesdienst as our online editors.
Reverend Frs. Heath Curtis, Larry Beane, and Rick Stuckwisch will be joining us for a discussion of the Divine Liturgy of the Church, to provide their insights on the questions which arise in connection with the ongoing debates concerning why certain styles and elements may or may not be counted as permissible in worship, and what is at stake in the worship wars of the 21st century. Fr. Curtis is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Edwardsville, Illinois, and Trinity Lutheran Church, Worden, Illinois; Fr. Beane is pastor of Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, Louisiana; and Fr. Stuckwisch is pastor of Emmaus Lutheran Church, South Bend, Indiana.
Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. is our Autumn Choral Vespers, followed by our annual bratwurst banquet (if you haven’t had our award-winning Sheboygan brats, it’s high time you did!). On Monday morning, following Holy Mass at 9:30, the Oktoberfest seminar runs until 3:15 p.m.
On Tuesday, matters raised in the Monday discussions will be considered further in a roundtable liturgical seminar designed to seek 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.
*NOTICE: Members of St. Paul’s special rate: $15.00 per person, $25 per couple (children free), includes all meals. (and special funding is available if you can’t afford that)
A Potluck to Honor Our New Members
A special Luncheon is scheduled for Sunday, September 13th (Rally Day) at noon. Everyone! Join your fellow members in welcoming our new people (don’t worry about missing the Packer-Bear game, it’s in the evening).
Private Confession is always available to anyone between 6 and 6:30 pm on these Wednesdays, and also, as always, by appointment.
Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells, Bob Bock
9/18/1976 Tom and Sue Ann Wells
9/24/1977 Dennis and Janice Schoen
9/1 John Ricknell
9/1 Laticia Van Stechelman
9/10 Jan Schoen
9/15 Chuck 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
At home: Mark Baker, Anna Baker, Carole Sanders, Mary Hamilton, and Ruth Snider; Mirilda Greiert is at Kewanee Care; Lorraine Mohr and Ila Scaife are at Courtyard Estates; Elva Garrison is at Avon Nursing Home; Ruth Melchin is at Hillcrest Home; and Jane Melchin at Lutheran Home, Peoria.
Rally Day September 13
A new Sunday school session begins coordinated with the new catechesis class, as adult Bible Class continues to study II Samuel. Potluck too, at noon. Plenty of opportunities!
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 14th:
6 pm Altar Guild meets in Conference Room
7 pm Mass: Holy Cross Day (open to all)
Following Vespers: Elders meet
Altar Guild Notes
The Altar Guild met on Monday, August 3rd.
A few changes have come about since the meeting: on Saturday, Aug. 29 we will not be observing the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, since that will be the theme of Mass for Oktoberfest this year. So on Saturday the 29th, the Altar color is green.
Special masses noted below.
September Special Masses
Monday, September 14th: Holy Cross Day. Mass at 7 p.m. (in place of First Monday Vespers)
Wednesday, September 23rd: St. Matthew (transf. from Sept. 21) Mass at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, September 30th: Michaelmas (transf. from Sept. 29) Mass at 7 p.m.
Junior Catechism on Saturdays
Beginning September 12th, the Saturday before Rally Day, Catechism class will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, for juniors and adults. (This is a change from the original plan, which had catechesis beginning a week later.) Anyone is welcome to join us.
Copies of the journal are available in the narthex. Feel free to take one.
Better yet, why not subscribe to the journal sponsored by your own parish. Four times a year, Gottesdienst aims to kindle a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Divine Service and the Holy Gospel in which our Holy and Triune God enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies, and keeps us in the true faith.
A one year’s subscription is only $15 (four issues); $25 gets you two years. To get yours, see pastor or log on at www.gottesdienst.org.
St. Michael Conference in Detroit
The annual St. Michael Conference has moved back to Zion in Detroit, where it originated. For a number of years it was held in Fort Wayne, but this year’s conference marks a return. Pastor Eckardt is again a featured workshop leader at the conference, held on Monday, September 28th. For details see http://www.ziondetroit.org/index.php?page=conference.
Our Radio Broadcast
"This is St. Paul’s On the Air: a radio program brought to you by St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Kewanee, Illinois, where you know you’ve been to church: no gimmicks, no compromises, the talk is straight, and we feast on sacred things. We’re glad to have you with us. I am your host: Rev. Fr. Burnell Eckardt, pastor of St. Paul’s here in Kewanee, Illinois. I’m sitting with a small panel of listeners around a couple of microphones carefully positioned to help you get into the room with us and listen along. We’re here to talk about the Gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the things that matter most to us."
With those words our weekly radio broadcast begins every Sunday morning at 7:35, on WKEI radio (AM 1450) in Kewanee. If you’d like to hear past broadcasts, you may log on at http://stpaulsontheair.blogspot.com.
If you’d like to join us for the recording session, it’s normally on Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m.
It’s also podcast on Pirate Christian Radio every Wednesday morning at 7:30 Central Time, at www.piratechristianradio.com.
Go ahead, have a listen!
The Lighter Side
Three Lutheran ministers answered a Roman Catholic priest’s invitation to visit. They arrived late, and the church was full. The priest saw them looking for a place to sit, so whispered to the altar boy to find them three chairs. To which the acolyte, not having heard correctly, rose and announced, “Three Cheers for the Lutherans!”
Keeping the Feast: A Study of the Holy Liturgy (continued)
The versicle, “Oh give thanks unto the LORD for he is good, and his mercy endureth forever,” though found in several Psalms, is taken contextually from I Chronicles 16, where it is seen to be part of a festive response to the placing of the ark of the covenant in the tent. Since likewise now Christ has sacramentally established His dwelling among His people, the singing of this versicle is most appropriate. Its use at this point in the Service comes from a Coburg order of 1626 (Reed, 383).
The use of a standard and invariable collect here, the most common being that composed by Martin Luther, is a kind of Lutheran revision to the custom of the early Eastern liturgies as distinct from Rome, which has at this point a variable collect, proper to the day. Luther’s “We give thanks to Thee, Almighty God, that Thou hast refreshed us . . .” is from his German Mass of 1526, employing similar expressions from earlier texts.
The Benedicamus (“V: Bless we the Lord. R: Thanks be to God.”) recaps the same idea, and the use of the passive “thanks be” rather than the active “we give thanks” serves to emphasize the entirely gracious nature of God’s gift, as the first person is removed altogether from the utterance, and consequently more glory implicitly expressed to God who is being thanked.
The Benediction, which in Lutheran usage is the Aaronic Blessing (“The LORD bless thee and keep thee . . . ,” Numbers 6:24-26), is reserved for Mass alone; it is not used at any of the prayer offices. It is the final sacramental feature of the Mass. This Old Testament passage has a distinctly Trinitarian flavor, being a threefold blessing from “the LORD” who is, nevertheless, one Lord, one God.
Moreover it has the effect of imparting this unity to the hearers, and making them one in the one God, by referring to them (who are plural, the people of God) in the collective singular person (“Thee”). This provides a subtle reminder to the people that they are also one, the body of Christ. This finer point of the liturgy is only heard where the King James English is used, in which the distinction between the singular and the plural second person is maintained.
Although there is a strong tradition which holds that the arms of the celebrant are not to be extended for the benediction, but rather that only the right hand is extended to make the sign of the cross, it is also helpful to remember the more venerable tradition, dating to Moses himself, of extending both arms in the blessing of the people. The manner in which they are extended ought to be cruciform, therefore—extended as if in a “Y”—rather than directly out toward the people. This is in imitation of Moses himself, as we know from the fact that when his arms became heavy, Aaron and Hur supported them on either side (Exodus 17:12). That is, Moses’ arms were cruciform, in anticipation of the extension of Christ’s (“heavy”) arms on the cross. The celebrant’s arms are likewise cruciform, in rememberence of the same.
When the benediction is nearly complete, the celebrant lowers his left arm, and with the right makes the sign of the cross, at the very conclusion holding his pose for just a moment, a subtle reminder to the people of what he is in this function, namely a living icon of Christ Himself.