Luther on Baptism
o be bap-tized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God's own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?
But here the devil is busy to delude us with false appearances, and lead us away from the work of God to our own works. For there is a much more splendid appearance when a Carthusian [monk] does many great and difficult works and we all think much more of that which we do and merit ourselves. But the Scriptures teach thus: Even though we collect in one mass the works of all the monks, however splendidly they may shine, they would not be as noble and good as if God should pick up a straw. Why? Because the person is nobler and better. Here, then, we must not estimate the person according to the works, but the works according to the person, from whom they must derive their nobility. But insane reason will not regard this, and because Baptism does not shine like the works which we do, it is to be esteemed as nothing.
From this now learn a proper understanding of the subject, and how to answer the question what Baptism is, namely thus, that it is not mere ordinary water, but water comprehended in God's Word and command, and sanctified thereby, so that it is nothing else than a divine water; not that the water in itself is nobler than other water, but that God's Word and command are added.
Therefore it is pure wickedness and blasphemy of the devil that now our new spirits, to mock at Baptism, omit from it God's Word and institution, and look upon it in no other way than as water which is taken from the well, and then blather and say: How is a handful of water to help the soul? Aye, my friend, who does not know that water is water if tearing things asunder is what we are after? But how dare you thus interfere with God's order, and tear away the most precious treasure with which God has connected and enclosed it, and which He will not have separated? For the kernel in the water is God's Word or command and the name of God which is a treasure greater and nobler than heaven and earth. . . .
(Luther’s Large Catechism)
July and August Birthdays
7/2 Jean Russell
7/2 Dana McReynolds
7/4 Sarah Kraklow
7/4 Jacki Boswell
7/5 Sandra Verplaetse
7/7 Andrew Clapper
7/7 Stephen Harris
7/10 Otis Anderson
7/10 Dale Baker
7/13 Gayle Beauprez
7/14 Pastor Eckardt
7/16 Robert Schoen
7/20 Julie Janik
7/23 Donna Harlow
7/20 Anna Baker
7/30 Peggy Janik
8/1 Robert Bock
8/2 Shania Kraklow
8/2 Joyce Long
8/8 Lorraine Mohr
8/9 Donald Kegebein
8/11 Samuel Fisher
8/11 Judy Thompson
8/13 Donald Murphy
8/15 Elva Garrison
8/16 Trista Dooley
8/17 Steven Peart
8/19 Amy McReynolds
8/21 John Sovanski
8/24 Rebecca Russell
8/24 Ruth VerShaw
8/27 Steve Peart
July Ushers: Steve Peart, Grant Andresen, Larry Campbell
August Ushers: Otis Anderson, Scott Clapper, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson
Church Picnic June 27th
REMINDER: Our annual church picnic is scheduled for Sunday, June 27th, at the open Kiwanis pagoda at Windmont Park. We’ll head out there right after church for brats etc. as usual, and a day of frolick in the sun and some good times together.
Bring your Frisbees, your tennis rackets, your bats and balls, or whatever else you’d like to bring, to have some fun.
July, August Anniversaries
7/1/1951 John and Emilie Ricknell
7/23/1955 Donald and Carol Kegebein
7/30/1965 Jewneel and Don Walker
8/1/2009 Chris and Trista Dooley
8/2/1975 Raymond and Carol Robinson
8/21/1998 Daniel and Jill Powers
Carole Sanders and Mary Hamilton at home; Mirilda Greiert at Kewanee Care; Ila Scaife at Courtyard Estates; Elva Garrison at Avon Nursing Home; Mark Baker and Anna Baker at home ; Ruth Snider at home.
Oktoberfest on the Horizon
This year’s Oktoberfest will be held on October 10-12 (Sunday through Tuesday), and will be featuring (on Monday) Dr. David Scaer of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. Dr. Scaer was Pastor Eckardt’s mentor, and is now one of Peter Eckardt’s professors at the seminary. Mark your calendars. That Monday is also Columbus Day, which may make attendance at Oktoberfest easier for some.
Altar Guild News
Members of the Altar Guild, please pay special attention to the nearby list of special saints’ days, for your preparations. Note that occasional Saturday feasts require the changing of parament colors Saturday night after mass.
At our July meeting (July 12) we are planning to spend time cleaning the candelabra.
Special Saints’ Days in July and August
Saturday, July 3: The Visitation BVM (observed), 5:30 pm (color: white)
Wednesday, July 21: S Mary Magdalene (observed), 7 pm (color: white)
Sunday, July 25: S James the Elder, Apostle: second collect only
Sunday, August 15: Dormition BVM (color: white)
Wednesday, August 25: S Bartholomew (observed), 7 pm (color: red)
Sunday, August 29: Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist: second collect only
If a special day is scheduled for our regular Saturday mass time, members are invited, as you are able, to attend this and come again on Sunday morning.
First Monday Vespers in July is transferred to July 12, do to the July 5th holiday: Altar Guild at 6 pm; Vespers at 6:45; Elders following.
First Monday Vespers in August is scheduled for August 2nd: Altar Guild at 6 pm; Vespers at 6:45; Elders following.
A Wedding Invitation to all the members
of St. Paul’s:
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Imig
request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter
the son of
Rev. and Mrs. Burnell F Eckardt
Saturday, the 31st of July
Two Thousand ten
two o’clock in the afternoon
St John Lutheran Church
1450 30th Ave
East Moline, Illinois
Reception at 5:30
Heritage Hall ♦ Bldg 60
Rock Island Arsenal
Rock Island, Illinois
Please respond on or before July 7th
This series, containing brief liturgical questions and Pastor Eckardt’s answers, began to appear in 1995, as a regular feature in this newsletter. It was then published, about ten years ago, as a Gottesdienst book.
Why do we follow liturgical rubrics when some find them offensive?
Such a small thing is the sign of the holy cross, one wonders why anyone should be so stubborn as to continue to make that sign when so many find it so offensive. So also, why should the matter of how we hold our hands when praying be something over which we have to be so unbending? Or yet again, why does a pastor continue to dress in clerical garb every day, when some find even that offensive? There are numerous matters like these which could flesh out the list, matters which appear quite unworthy of such an unyielding comportment on our part: how we vest, how we sing, the kinds of words we speak, etc. Matters such as these lead the uninformed to ask why we are so stubborn, and hence lead also others to insist that we quit being so bullheaded about them. These are matters of adiaphora (unessential things), are they not? Yet these are the matters which win for some of us the charges of being unyielding, unbending, and unwilling to work with people.
Why do we insist on these things when we could just as well preach the same Gospel without crossing ourselves all the time, without holding our hands palm to palm, without dressing every day as if we were off to church? Nay, we could do it better, some would allege, for we would not have to contend with contro¬versy over unessential matters; why, these things are lower in rank even than what our dogmatics books would call secondary non-fundamental articles! Surely we could yield here, could we not?
When confessional instincts drive us, we sometimes cannot exactly come up with the answer all at once. After all, there is no false doctrine in not making the sign, or in not praying thus and so, or in dressing in suit and tie for work-a-day pastoral duties.
But that should lead no one to suppose there is no good answer. What may be said first of all about this kind of stub¬bornness is that it is not likely just for the sake of some personal quirk on our part that we get stoic about some things others would cast into the not-worth-it category. Gilbert Meilaender put the matter quite well once in an issue of First Things:
It cannot be simply my personal view, my personal cause. For that alone I would scarcely risk or endure isolation. Few “opinions” of mine are likely to mean as much to me as my good name among colleagues. So if it is my cause that is at stake, that good name is likely to trump other considerations. No, the truth we think we understand must have about it an impersonality; it cannot simply be one’s own private view or opinion. (First Things 47 [November 1994]: 34)
There is another very good reason for this inclination to retain certain practices even if some will find them offensive. David’s prayers give the reason: “Zeal for Thy house hath consumed me” (Ps. 69:9); “my zeal hath consumed me” (Ps. 119:139). So also we see Jesus, who for this zeal drove the moneychangers and their oxen and sheep and doves all out of the temple, poured out their money, and overthrew their tables. “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up’” (John 2:17). Now one could as well say the same of Jesus’ behavior as many have said about the behavior of certain confessing Christian pastors. Jesus did not have to pour out their money and overturn their tables. Certainly that was a matter of adia¬phora. He could as well have complained to the officials, or incited the people; He could have used other means which would have imperiled His own fame far less than (continued, next page: Why rubrics)
(Why rubrics – continued from previous page)
this. Why did He do that? The answer is zeal for God’s house.
This is exactly the reason we confessing pastors are counted stubborn over some of the things we do. They all pertain to worship, they all pertain to the liturgy, and most especially to the blessed Sacraments. The holy sign exalts Baptism and invites the Sacrament of the Altar. The “praying hands” (which many have as statues on their shelves but never praying in that posture, palm to palm, on the ends of their own arms!) portray the serenity of faith staid on the one thing needful, that toward which the one praying faces, that which is upon the altar. The clerical garb calls daily attention to the office which is pre-eminently carried out in the place where such garb is especially called for. These matters are matters of faith, and of zeal. One thing is needful; hearts of faithful preachers (and people), staid on that one thing, will tend not to notice, and certainly not to heed, the gainsayers and their railing. For it is not that they have made some determination to be stubborn about unnecessary things, nor to portray some sort of criticism toward others who don’t do it that way; rather, it is simply that zeal has eaten them up. They could not turn back; faith made them do it; truth made them do it; their minds and their bodies are captive to the Word of God.
Why is Holy Communion sometimes called Mass?
There are actually many different names for the service of the Holy Sacrament. It is called the Eucharist, the Holy Supper, the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, and the Mass. In the New Testament and early church times is was called the Breaking of the Bread.
The term Mass (Latin, missa) is perhaps the term with most widespread use throughout Christendom. It is also a source of controversy among Protestants because of its regular association with Roman Catholicism. The Lutheran Reformation renounced the Roman Mass as “the greatest and most horrible abomination, as it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article [of justification by faith in Christ]” (Smalcald Articles II, 1). Yet the context of this statement will determine what it is that is abominable about the Roman Mass, for Luther’s quote continues: “. . . it has been held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass, even though it be rendered by a wicked scoundrel, frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory, while only the Lamb of God shall and must do this” (ibid.). Thus it is clear that what Luther opposed was the Roman idea of Mass as an act or work of man, essentially of re-sacrificing the body of Christ for sins. For Rome the benefits of the Mass were effected by the work that the priest performed. For Luther and the Lutherans, the benefit was seen in the words, “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” Thus in the Mass the Sacrament was to be received orally by the communicants in order for them to benefit from it.
Yet the term Mass was never abandoned on the Lutheran side. Indeed the Lutheran Confessions declare,
We do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it. In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals, when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc. (Apology to the Augsburg Confession XXIV, 1)
In America, the term has been looked on with suspicion among many Lutherans, which is likely due to a long-held bias against anything “Catholic.” This bias is unfortunate especially because it leads to the preference of tendencies and terms which are in much more abundant use among churches which deny altogether the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament. Dr. C.F.W. Walther, founding father of the Missouri Synod, had this to say about such a bias: “It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won’t accuse us of being Roman Catholic!” (Essays for the Church, republished in 1992, I:194.)
Since we agree that the Sacrament is truly the Body and Blood of Christ—a point of agreement with Rome, and of disagreement with Methodists, (why Mass – continued on next page)
(why Mass – continued from previous page)
Baptists, and others—and since historically, confessing Lutherans have not shunned the use of the term Mass, therefore we ought not be ashamed to use it, if only to distinguish ourselves from anyone who would deny that the bread is truly Christ’s Body, and the wine is truly His Blood.
Why is it important for Christians to receive the Holy Sacrament frequently?
Let’s let Martin Luther answer this, from the Small Catechism (“Christian Questions with Their Answers” [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986], 42):
First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.
And then Luther continues:
But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?
To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7.
Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15–16 and in 1 John 2 and 5.
Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.
Copies of the journal are still available in the narthex. Feel free to take one.
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St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443