The church year (also called the sanctoral cycle) is divided roughly in half.
This division is very general, to be sure, since it’s all about Jesus, but from Advent to Pentecost Sunday is the half that surrounds especially the events pertaining to the points of highest significance in the life of Jesus: his birth, his death, and his resurrection. From Pentecost to Advent is the half that pertains to the life and growth of the Holy Christian Church. So it’s fitting that we take a little time to consider the matter of Christian piety during this season. As I said, it’s all really about Jesus, and we must never separate the life of the Christian from the life of Jesus. As St. Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2;20).
So Christian piety is especially concerned with the baptismal life of faith, that is, a life which routinely returns to the font in prayer and in worship, to receive sustenance and life from the Word of Christ during our earthly pilgrimage.
From this springs the other matters which we normally associate with piety: behaving properly in the world, keeping ourselves from vices, learning to be kind and courteous, helping those who need out help, forgiving, loving one another, and so forth.
But first from this must spring the necessity for the nurture and maintenance of the faith we have. This is why the commandments are ordered the way they are: the first table of the law deals with God, and the second with the neighbor.
Christian piety must be inclined, then, to be concerned about such things as regular, weekly attendance at worship (including the summer vacation, incidentally!), as well as daily prayer. The catechism shows us how to say the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer at morning and night, and it’s a good idea to read a chapter a day of the Bible. These things are of no mean significance: daily prayers spring forth from the weekly (at least) gathering at worship, and that weekly gathering springs from the font of Baptism.
The essence of Christian piety begins with worship and prayer.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Church Picnic July 3rd
Mark your calendars! Our annual church picnic is scheduled for the following Sunday, July 3rd, at the shelter house at Northeast Park. We’ll head out there right after church for brats etc. as usual, and a day of frolicking 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 Ushers: Steve Peart, Grant Andresen, Larry Campbell
August Ushers: Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson
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
At home: Mary Hamilton, Mark Baker, Anna Baker, and Ruth Snider. At Kewanee Care: Mirilda Greiert. At Courtyard Estates: Ila Scaife. At Abingdon Care Center: Elva Garrison.
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
8/21 John Sovanski
8/24 Rebecca Russell
8/24 Ruth VerShaw
8/27 Steve Peart
Oktoberfest on the Horizon
This year’s Oktoberfest will be held on October 9-11 (Sunday through Tuesday), and will be featuring (on Monday) Dr. William Weinrich of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. Dr. Weinrich is an Early Church specialist, who was one of Pastor Eckardt’s favorites, 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, since we have no July meeting!
Wednesday, June 29: Ss. Peter and Paul (color: Red)
Saturday, July 2: The Visitation BVM, 5:30 pm (color: white)
All Sundays in July and August are Green.
No mass Saturday, July 9, 16, or 23.
No mass Tuesday or Wednesday, July 12, 13.
Wednesday, August 17, we will observe The Dormition BVM (color: white). We will not observe this Feast at Mass on Tuesday the 16th (so color stays green).
Wednesday, August 24: S Bartholomew (color: red)
Sesquicentennial in 2012
The congregation’s 150th anniversary is next year. A first planning meeting was held on Wednesday, June 22nd. At printing, the results of that meeting, including future meeting schedules, were unavailable. Stay tuned to the bulletin announcements.
We expect to have several days of celebration throughout 2012, the last and greatest of which will be at Oktoberfest 2012.
We hope to have a new pictorial directory in the making very soon.
There is also some talk of purchasing new green, violet, and red paraments to match our white set. We may also be looking at remodeling the chancel floor.
There will be no First Monday meetings or Vespers in July this year, since it falls on July 4th, and Pastor and family will be on vacation the following Monday.
The next First Monday events are scheduled for August 1st: Altar Guild at 6 pm; Vespers at 6:45; Elders following.
The Lighter Side
Yamaha has recalled 20,000 pianos due to a problem with the pedal sticking, causing pianists to play faster than they normally would, resulting in adangerous number of accidentals. The sticky pedal also makes it harder for pianists to come to a full stop at the end of a piece making it extremely risky for audiences. Although there have been a tremendous number of accidentals, fortunately it has so far caused no deafs. Analysts are wondering if it will put a damper on their bass market and if they will be able to sustain sales. Congress is also considering calling in the President of Yamaha for questioning as to when the company first learned about the treble.
First Choir Rehearsal August 17th
Our first choir rehearsal of the season is set for Wednesday evening, August 17th, as we prepare for Oktoberfest. This gives us a mere month and a half to get ready, so all choir members are urged to mark your calendars and do your level best to make all rehearsals. We’ll have some new music, and, as always, have lots of fun.
Council Meetings Third Wednesdays
So far the new scheduling of Council meetings has been working out relatively well: normally the third Wednesday of the month, at 5:30 p.m. In July, that’s the 20th, and in August, it’s the 17th.
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.
THE GENERAL PRAYER
Why is the General Prayer positioned after the Sermon and before the Administration of the Sacrament?
The General Prayer, also called The Prayer of the Church, is a gathering point for the Christian Church as it prepares to partake in the Blessed Sacrament. In ancient times, the names of people for whom prayers were intended were written on cards called diptychs, and while prayers were offered for the conversion of the heathen, only the names of Christians appeared on the diptychs. Although this custom does not survive, still the idea is rightly to be preserved that here the members of the church are praying for one another, and so bearing one another’s burdens. This unifying prayer thus serves as a key preparation for attending together at the altar.
In some traditions, the kiss of peace still remains from the ancient church as a further gesture of unity. In any case, there must be no divisions among Christians who commune together.
Why is the altar in the middle?
Churches vary greatly in architectural style, and the style of the interior is generally somewhat representative of what that church believes. Some churches have a very prominent pulpit, elevated above everything else and planted right in the center. This no doubt is meant to proclaim that the preaching of the Word of God is of primary importance. Indeed, Lutheran churches have historically had extremely high pulpits, requiring many steps for the preacher to ascend.
Yet in Lutheran churches it is also generally true—as is the case in many other traditional churches—that the pulpit, high and prominent as it may be, is not in the center. Rather, it is off to one side, and the altar stands alone in the center. This sends a strong visual message: the preaching of the sermon, as important and sacred a thing as it is, is not as central to the Church’s life as the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. For the sermon preaches Christ, but the Sacrament is Christ, as He said, “This is My Body.” Therefore the pulpit is appropriately placed to one side, that the preacher may refer to that which is central, namely, Christ; and the altar is appropriately placed in the center, while the Sacrament is appropriately placed on the center of the altar. This puts Christ in the center of our churches, of our worship, and of our lives.
Why do we bow or kneel to the altar?
Jesus once said to the Pharisees that the gold of the temple is sanctified by the temple. So the holiness of the temple dictated that those things pertaining to it were also holy.
Jesus also said, referring to Himself, “One greater than the temple is here.” Now if Jesus’ holiness is greater than the holiness of the temple, surely those things pertaining to Jesus Himself are also holy.
In the Holy Supper Christ Himself is truly present, for He said, “This is My Body.” Therefore,according to His own words, it is His true Body which sits on the paten (the plate) which sits on the altar. For the bread is as much Christ’s Body as His Body on the cross. Since this is so, it is surely appropriate to give highest reverence to His Body there, according to this faith. Therefore the people of God rightly bend the knee, to honor and adore Him where He is truly found.
Not only do we reverence the Sacrament sitting on the altar, however. Since the temple sanctifies the gold, so also the Body of Christ sanctifies the altar. We call the altar holy because it is the place from which Christ’s Body is given.
Therefore when the Sacrament is on the altar, we kneel (which is more profound than bowing) when we come to the altar to receive the Sacrament; but even when the Sacrament is not there, we bow, whenever we pass the altar.
It is also appropriate to observe this custom before entering or upon leaving the pew: when the Sacrament is present, to kneel and make the sign of the cross; or when the Sacrament is not present, to bow. There is also a venerable custom of bowing and making the sign of the cross upon entering or leaving the church.
This is a small way of being reminded either that Christ’s holy Body is present or has sanctified the altar which pertains to it. How very blessed it is to know this when we receive Christ’s Body and His Blood in the Supper. For thereby we ourselves are sanctified (and saved!), as our most holy faith confesses.
Why do we sometimes kneel and sometimes only bow toward the altar?
The centrality of the altar in our churches is a vivid reminder of the centrality of the Holy Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Mass, since the Sacrament is placed on the altar. Here—as we believe, teach, and confess—is where Christ is found. He sits on the altar! And even when the Sacrament isn’t there, since the altar is His throne, we reverence.
Historically and traditionally, there has been a difference in the way people would reverence the altar, depending on whether the Sacrament was actually on the altar or not. If the altar did not have the Sacrament on it, the people simply bowed toward it; but if they could see that the Sacrament was there, they knelt, even on entering the church. This reflected the belief that even elements reserved from a prior celebration of the Sacrament still are in fact what Christ has called them, His Body and Blood.
People are generally aware that in some churches—most notably Roman Catholic—people genuflect (drop to one knee) before entering the pew. What is perhaps less well known is the origin of this practice: it always had to do with whether the Sacrament was on the altar. Since in some churches the Sacrament is always on or near the altar, the people simply genuflected all the time. It wasn’t simply a thing to do on entering their pew; it was a reverence toward the Sacrament. The historic rule of thumb—which has largely been forgotten in our day—was that whether one genuflected or merely bowed was determined by whether the consecrated elements of the Sacrament were there or not.
Lutherans have known some different ways of reverencing: among some, it is customary to enter one’s pew and to stand and pray toward the altar before sitting. Others bow upon entering the pew. Some do genuflect, if the Sacrament is present. The great majority of Lutherans have customarily done their most profound genuflecting at the altar, when they receive the Sacrament. There they do a double genuflexion (they kneel with both knees).
It is important that our practice be informed by our theology. What we believe ought to affect what we do; thus kneeling is always appropriate if Christ’s Body and Blood are present. This is especially so in view of the fact that there have been churches who do not believe that the Sacrament truly is Christ, so they refuse to kneel. How much more ought we to confess with our knees, then. For we believe Christ’s words: “This is My Body; this is My Blood.”
Low Mass Tuesday mornings
Anyone wanting to join us on Tuesdays at 8:30 in the morning for low (spoken) mass is welcome: it’s brief, about a half hour. It’s always a good idea to check with the pastor before coming, since occasionally this little service must be cancelled.
If you haven’t taken advantage of the free copies of the journal Gottesdiesnt, you really ought to grab one, as they are made available in the narthex. Four times a year, Gottesdienst aims to 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 a subscription, see pastor or log on at www.gottesdienst.org. But if you want, just grab a free copy when they come out!
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443