Our 149th Christmas . . .
As we stand on the threshold of our 150th anniversary year, it’s helpful to take a moment to reflect in humility that everything we have is a gift of the grace of God.
The chronicler wrote these words, appropriate also for us, 75th anniversary, in 1937: “In spite of all the troubles and the trials through which the congregation passed, the Lord has never left His people to themselves, but He ever showed Himself as the merciful, long-suffering, and gracious God, whose is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, now and forevermore. Let us rejoice, and praise the Lord!”
During the holy season of Advent it is always good to reflect and remember our unworthiness of the grace of God; perhaps doubly so now, as we look to our sesquicentennial. Penitence is an important part of Advent, which is why I have never been a fan of changing the Advent paraments colors to blue. Those who advocate blue do so from the perspective of seeing blue as a color of hope, another important Advent theme.
But for us hope can never be without penitence, and since for many hope is easily tied to personal investment of work, time, or merit, the element of penitence is critical for those whose hope is rooted only in Christ. So my vote is for violet, the color of penitence, for Advent.
For we cannot take pride in ourselves. If we do, we lose the whole purpose of our existence as a Christian congregation.
Rather, as our 150th birthday approaches, we need to be on our knees, as it were. Come to think of it, we need to be literally on our knees as well, receiving regularly and often the blessed Sacrament: Christ for us.
And as we look to our 149th celebration of the Nativity of our Lord, let us recall the manner of his coming in the flesh, which has been the source of our every blessing. For he came for those who could not help themselves; he came in humility, for the humble; he came in poverty, for the poor; he came in weakness, for the weak.
And so let us earnestly pray that God in his mercy will grant us length of congregational days, though we in no wise deserve it. If the return of Christ does not come in the next 150 years, then may God grant by his grace and mercy that our heirs will still be here in the year of our Lord 2162, to celebrate our 300th anniversary.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Another Change in the Planning: Choral Vespers moved to January 25th
Upon further consideration, your choir has decided not to hold our traditional Christmas/Epiphany Choral Vespers this season, in part because of the big event coming up January 25th (for which see the next page); we will, however, be expecting to feature a number of our traditional Christmas carols in the coming season.
Decorating During Advent
As is our custom, we decorate the church little by little during Advent, until finally all is complete for Christmas. The day on which volunteers are needed help put up the tree is Saturday, December 10th, beginning at 9 am. Please help!
St. Andrews Mass Nov. 30
St. Andrew’s Day is Wednesday, November 30th, and we will observe it at our 7 p.m. mass. Join us!
12/13 Michael Eckardt
12/13 Lynn Woller
12/20 Peter Eckardt
12/20 Rachel Rowe
12/25 Robert Melchin
December Anniversaries None
Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells, Bob Bock
First Tuesday Meetings Dec. 6, St Nicholas Mass Dec. 7
On Tuesday, December 6th, Altar Guild meets as usual at 6 pm, and Elders at 7:30 pm. Between them we will hold a St. Nicholas vespers at 6:45 pm, but we will hold mass on the following day (December 7) at our usual Wednesday evening time (7:00) to observe St. Nicholas’ Day, so that more of our members may benefit. All members are invited to attend.
In Our Prayers
In addition to our shut-ins, our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. Anyone wishing to update the lest by addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.
Sick or infirm:
And all of our shut-ins
David Dakin [re Harris]
Anna Rutowicz [re Harris]
Sara Bidni [mother of Svetlana Meeker]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter, cancer]
Caleb Cleaver [re Ricknell]
Pam Mansnarus [re Ricknell]
Gary Skinner [re Allensworth]
Pastor Glenn Niemann [who has cancer]
Christian Johnson [re Kemerlings]
Madison Lindsay [re Andersons]
Nina Hartz [Sharon’s mother]
Richard Day [Kris Harden’s father]
Louis Shreck [Diana’s father-in-law]
Linda Anderson [Andersons’ daughter-in-law]
Tom Fornoff [Jean Russell’s brother-in-law, hosp.]
Edna Day [Chris Harden’s stepmother, hip surgery]
Robbie Niernyck [accident victim, re Harlow]
Susan Wahlmann [re Harris]
One of our HeadStart children who has leukemia
And those we name in our hearts.
In the military:
Brent Matthews [re Fisher]
Michael and Melinda Fisa [re Kemerling]
Michelle Steuber [re Fisher]
Donny Appleman [re Ricknell]
Thomas Kim [re Shreck]
Chaplain Michael Frese
And Jaclyn Harden Alvarez
including especially any unborn children in danger of abortion, the people in the midst of famine in Eastern Africa, and those suffering from persecution, genocide, and imprisonment in Nigeria, Iran, Laos, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
January 25th, 2012
St. Paul’s 150TH Anniversary Festival
The Conversion of Blessed St. Paul the Apostle
Our Feast of Title
On Wednesday, January 25th, we have a big day planned, the first of our celebrations of the congregation’s sesquicentennial anniversary. On the sanctoral calendar January 25th is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which makes it a Feast of Title for this St. Paul’s congregation. So we have planned a number of special events, in hopes that the membership and friends of St. Paul’s can join us in celebrating. If you can’t make it for everything, maybe for one part or another:
1) 9:00 a.m.
The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Feast of Title for St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
2) 10:00 a.m.
A Day of Theological Reflection
A day-long seminar (until 3:30 pm), our fourteenth retreat in the Theological Reflection series, entitled, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The seminar, led by Pastor Eckardt, will focus on the Christology of Noah (Genesis 6 - 9), and, as ever, with an eye to finding Christ there, as He himself said of the Scriptures, “They testify of me.”
3) 7:00 p.m.
An evening of prayer and celebration (if your schedule keeps you from coming to the daytime events, hopefully you can at least come to this):
Sesquicentennial Choral Vespers
Our fifteenth annual winter Choral Vespers, besides being a prayer service as vespers always is, is an event of high significance for us in our 150th year. This year we have moved the event to January 25th (from earlier in the month) for this purpose.
The evening’s music will be followed (as always) by our wine and cheese reception in the cafeteria, another annual tradition.
If there is inclement weather, a snow date is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th, at 7 p.m.
Mary Hamilton, Mark Baker, and Anna Baker at home; Mirilda Greiert at Kewanee Care; Ruth Snider at Hillcrest; Elva Garrison at Abingdon Care Center.
Choir Rehearsals in December
Our Wednesday choir rehearsals during December are especially important as we prepare for Christmas, and for our Choral Vespers on January 25th. Choir members please make every effort to attend them all.
Altar Guild Notes
Advent begins the last Sunday in November. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed on the Third Sunday in Advent, December 11th.
St. Andrew’s Day will be observed Wednesday evening, November 30th, at 7. Color is red.
St. Nicholas’ Day, Vespers will be held on Tuesday December 6th at 7 pm, and Wednesday December 7th, at 7 pm. Color remains violet (Third Class Feast).
St. Lucy’s Day will be observed on Wednesday, December 14th, at 7. Color is violet.
St. Thomas’ Day will be observed on Wednesday, December 21st, at 7. Color is violet.
The three Christ Masses will be held as usual, 7 pm Christmas Eve, 12 midnight, and 10 am Christmas Day (although Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, the time of service is at 10 am). Color is white.
Holy Innocents’ Day will be observed Wednesday, December 28th, at 7 pm. Color is red.
The Circumcision and Name of Jesus will be observed on New Year’s Eve, Saturday the 31st, at 7 pm. and on New Year’s Day, Sunday the 1st of January, at 10 a.m. (although New Year’s falls on a Sunday, the time of service is at 10 am Color is White.
No mass on Tuesday morning December 27th.
Advent for the church is a time of penitential preparation for the coming of Christ. It’s helpful to remember this as we also prepare our households for Christmas. Unlike the commercial and secular world, the Church’s celebration of Christmas begins with Christmas, and runs the twelve days of Christmas, until Epiphany (note, for instance, that our Christmas Choral Vespers is after Christmas). Advent has historically been a season of fasting, though not as profound a fast as in Lent. Some have fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent, others in other ways. The finest way to prepare for the coming of Christ is by contrition and confession (see the paragraph above this one).
Catechesis moves to Wednesday afternoons
Beginning in December, catechesis will be offered on Wednesdays at 4:30 pm instead of Saturdays. Anyone is welcome to join us.
Save your scrap metal
If you have scrap metal, don’t throw it out. Let Linda Rowe know, and she’ll be glad to collect it and take it to the metal scrapyard, as she has been doing for years, and donating the proceeds to St. Paul’s.
The Lighter Side: Some Groaners
Which elf came in after the first eleven?
Where did the reindeer go to find his lost tail?
A retail shop.
What do you call an elf that tells silly jokes?
A real Christmas card.
Which reindeer has the cleanest antlers?
Who makes the sauce for the elves’ spaghetti?
What did the reindeer say when he saw an elf?
Nothing, silly. Reindeer can't talk.
What did Adam say on the night before Christmas?
It’s Christmas, Eve!
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 sing responsively the Thanksgiving after the Nunc Dimittis?
The responsive singing of “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good,” with “And His mercy endureth forever,” is the oldest responsorial liturgy extant, coming from the Psalms, especially Psalm 136, which employs the response “For His mercy endureth forever” at each verse. Its usage here, at the completion of the Distribution and Nunc Dimittis, is not only a fitting recapitulation of the goodness of
God given in the Sacrament, but a liturgical mark and indication that all of the goodness and mercy of God may be found in the Sacrament, and even that every other reference to the goodness of God is fulfilled in the Sacrament. This is the final—the perpetually final—expression of thanks to God for His goodness, now that we have come to the pinnacle of everything that can rightly be called good. God not only made the world and called it good in the beginning, but now, in the end, joins Himself and His eternal goodness to us fallen creatures, to return to us for all eternity the dignity of His goodness.
Why does the pastor, facing the people, raise his hands for the Benediction?
The Benediction (literally, “good words”) comes from the blessing which Aaron have to the people in Numbers 6:24-26, and is sometimes referred to as the Aaronic Blessing. It employs the very same words, and as Aaron lifted his hands to bless the people, so does the celebrant.
Behind this is an understanding that Aaron was prefiguring Christ in His crucifixion, with arms outstretched. That is, the stretching out of Jesus’ arms on the cross is the true cause and source of God’s heavenly benediction.
So important is the Benediction that in some traditions, the congregation even kneels to receive it. It is the last summarizing statement of our most holy faith, expressing bodily both the crucifixion and blessing of Christ at once. He was crucified for you, so now He blesses you with an eternal benediction.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443