The Lenten Fast
he season of Lent has for centuries been a season of emphasis on fasting, penitence, and preparation for the celebration of Easter. The definition of the fast has changed over the years. There was a time not so long ago—and there still is in some parts of Christendom—in which the fast involved a putting aside of all meat, dairy products, and eggs. It was out of this tradition that the Easter egg arose, for the coloring of eggs was a celebration of the ending of the fast.
The custom of fasting is quite biblical. If Moses, Elijah, and Jesus himself fasted, certainly it must be a good practice. Indeed, on Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus saying, When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, etc. So Luther’s Small Catechism declares, "Fasting and other bodily preparation is indeed a fine outward training." Therefore we conclude that fasting is a good thing, though the particulars or degree of the fast is a matter left to Christian liberty.
The purpose of the fast is disciplinary; as the Apostle says in the Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday (which serves as a preparatory explanation, two and a half weeks prior to Lent): “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Co. 9:27).” The fast is the opposite of self-indulgence or self-gratification. The heaping up of pleasures is a dangerous thing for the Christian, and self-indulgence is certainly not desired behavior; therefore the fast is a means of training the body to be content with less than it desires.
The span of the fast is forty days, like the forty days in which Jesus fasted in the wilderness. By Jesus’ forty-day fast the word of Sacred Scriptures was fulfilled, saying that Moses was with the LORD on Mount Sinai forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water. So also, to the same Mount Sinai (which is also called Horeb), Elijah came, when he had eaten and drunk, and he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights. So these two were seen with Jesus on his mountain, the mount of Transfiguration, just before his suffering in Jerusalem. How fitting, then, that for the first Sunday in Lent, the Gospel centers on Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, the first part of his ministry, in deep humiliation.
The Church also observes a liturgical fast during Lent, even as Israel fasted forty years in the wilderness. This is why the color for Lent is the penitential purple. Alleluias are not heard during Lent, and there is less music (fasting of the ears); flowers are absent, and, during the last two weeks of Lent, statutes, images, and crosses in the churches are veiled (fasting of the eyes). No weddings are traditionally permitted during Lent, as feasting would be in principle contrary to the fast. As the season moves on toward Easter, the fast becomes deeper in stages. The traditional season of pre-Lent merely hints at the fast to come; then Lent itself begins; then come the last two weeks of Lent, called Passiontide, during which no Glorias are sung at all (canticles and psalms are sung without them); and within that span comes Holy Week, and finally within Holy Week the Triduum Sacram, that is, the Sacred Three Days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
Yet in the midst of our fast we still have joy, which is always right for Christians. Thus even the fourth Sunday in Lent—in the midst of Lent—is called Laetare, which means “rejoice.” For we always expect and know the joys of Easter and eternal feasting in the life of the world to come.
- Pastor Eckardt
Candlemas to be observed February 6
The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of Mary will be observed with mass at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 6. The actual date is February 2, but we’re celebrating it the following Wednesday to give more people the opportunity to attend.
Also called Candlemas, because of the sublime custom of distributing, blessing, and lighting of candles during the service, this service is one of the more beautiful at St. Paul’s.
This declaration by Simeon (in the Nun Dimittis) of the Christ Child as a Light is the reason for the ceremonial use of candles at this Mass. The use of these lights in connection with the Blessed Sacrament emphasizes the analogy of Simeon’s exultation on receiving the Child with our own reception of Christ at the altar. The name of this Feast, Candlemas, also subtly provides a link to the Feast from which it springs, that great feast of forty days earlier, namely Christmas.
Youth Group Again!
Beginning on Friday, February 1st, our new Youth Group will be meeting twice a month, thanks to the ambitious efforts of Jennifer Madsen, our new youth leader (with help from Rich, her husband). It’s called “Youth,” but anyone can come, young or old, if you’re young at heart. Bring friends, too!
The first meeting’s agenda is to meet at 6 pm and make spaghetti dinner together. Jennifer likes to cook, and hopes to get everyone involved in the meal.
Next, Pastor will be leading a study on the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple (bring your Bibles!)
After that, we’ll discuss our plans and goals for the year, and what kind of group we want to have, what we’d like to do, things you might want help with, etc.
And then, hang out and have fun, playing games and enjoying each other’s company.
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 15th, which is the day after Valentine’s Day. [update: this day is tentatively changed to Sunday, February 10th. Watch the bulletin for details.] So expect to be baking some Valentine’s cookies. And yes, we’ll be making dinner together too: English muffin pizzas, salad, and fruit kabobs (Lent, you know).
The Bible study will be on Ash Wednesday, and the meaning of Lent.
If everything goes according to plan, we’ll bake the cookies on Friday night, and meet again Saturday morning at 10, to deliver them to our shut-ins, and get to know some of our members who can never make it to church on Sundays because of their age or infirmity.
Many thanks to Jennifer for setting this all up! Let’s make it worthwhile by coming out.
2/2 Mindie Fisher
2/4 Joshua Kraklow
2/5 Tom Wells
2/17 Monroe Kemerling
2/23 Carol McReynolds
2/24 Ruth Snider
Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson
Mary Hamilton at home; Mark Baker at home; Anna Baker and Ruth Snider at Hillcrest Home; Mirilda Greiert at Kewanee Care; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield .
Private Confession is always available to anyone between 6 and 6:30 pm on these Wednesdays (and also, as always, by appointment). Pastor is usually available as well on Saturdays, from about 4 pm until Mass.
Altar Guild Notes
· Parament color is VIOLET throughout February, except for Wednesday, February 6th (Candlemas, transf.), for which the color is WHITE;
Next meeting is Tuesday, February 5th.
First Tuesday Vespers, etc.
February 5th, Altar Guild is at 6 pm, Vespers is at 6:45, and Elders is at 7:15, as usual.
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 ddition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
And all of our shut-ins
David Dakin [req by Harrises]
Anna Rutowicz [req by Harrises]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter, cancer]
Caleb Cleaver [req by Ricknells]
Pam Mansnarus [req by Ricknells]
Christian Johnson [req by Kemerlings]
Madison Lindsay [req by Andersons]
Tom Fornoff [Jean Russell’s brother-in-law]
Nina [nine-a] Hartz [Sharon’s mother]
Rev. Don Chambers [formerly of Manito]
Rev. Glenn Niemann [of St. John, Pekin]
Rev. Brian Feicho [of Granite City, Ill.]
Lisa Gustafson [req by Donna Harlow]
Crystal Stoll [former member]
Linda Peterson [req by Kemerlings]
Michelle Steuber [req by Fischers]
Pat Shreck [mother-in-law of Diana]
in the military:
Brent Matthews [req by Fisher]
Those who are in trouble:
Any unborn children in danger of abortion, and those suffering from persecution, genocide, and imprisonment in India, Sudan, Egypt, and elsewhere.
This is a reprinting, with some alterations, of some of the written remarks I published in this newsletter seven years ago after our annual voters’ January meeting, reflections that are still applicable. – Pastor Eckardt
I have noted before how avidly our members participate in worship, even on Wednesdays when there is no organ accompaniment and attendance is lower, and it seems to me that the people participate not because they have to, but because they want to; their voices blend not out of obligation, but out of desire; the people are there to be fed, and to rejoice together in Christ and His Holy Gospel.
I know this is certainly why I am here, why I participate, and why I sing and speak. It is not out of some grudging sense of carrying out the requirements of a vocation that I celebrate the mass and preach the sermon. I do it because I want to do it, I desire it; I am here also to rejoice in Christ.
So here’s some encouragement. We are together a parish whose mind is one, who have learned to stay our hearts on Christ and His wondrous works. It may be that I’m naïve, but I don’t think so. I think, rather, that there really are no factions here, there is no party spirit, no ‘us’ against ‘them’. One can detect occasional disagreements from time to time about various matters; but those disagreements are insignificant, compared with the unity we share in the Gospel, and for this I rejoice. And, to be sure, we ought all rejoice in this, for it is a great gift from Almighty God.
Thus it is that we have two tremendous strengths here. The first is that we have the Gospel and the Sacraments in all their splendor. This ought never to be taken lightly; it is a gift. The second is that we have a great sense of unity about this. St. Paul’s has certainly had difficult periods throughout her 151 years of history, and who knows what future decades may bring? But for now, for this time, we are united, and we are strong in our convictions.
On the other hand, we are weak in other ways. We are, and have been for many years, a fragile congregation. This is by no means a large parish. By the grace of God we carry on. It is certainly a great benefit to have tenants at last in our building, the Head Start people, and we have a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Nevertheless our financial needs continue to beset us, and we need every last ounce of the contributions we get to make ends meet. A congregation this size suffers financially if even one family moves away or becomes inactive.
We do have some very dedicated volunteers among us, whose efforts have been an enormous help; they have produced much fruit, and their fruit abides. The value and dedication of our volunteers cannot be overstated. They are also a gift to this parish.
What we really need to find ways to do is to let our community know just how blessed we are, that they may share with us the blessings of this hallowed space, and what goes on here. We have Christ here in all His fullness; we rejoice abundantly in having Him, and in our unity in the Gospel. If only more people could behold it and rejoice with us. But it isn’t so much advertising on a large scale that generally produces the best results; it’s personal contacts. Take a copy of our brochure, available in the hallway. Have it with you when you are out and about, so that if ever the opportunity arises, you can invite people here, and inform them about this wonderful place where Christ is preached and the people rejoice together.
And let us pray God we retain this holy joy and unity, and, if we be fragile, that we maintain the settled spirit of confidence in His eternal mercy to sustain us and uplift us, through the Holy Word and Blessed Sacraments of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Taking Pains – reprinted from a regular column in Gottesdienst
“Let Us Pray”
The prescribed form for the introduction of a collect, whether at Mass or in the prayer offices, is first for the officiant to gesture toward the congregation with his hands parted as he says, “The Lord be with you,” and then to fold his hands palm to palm as they reply, “And with thy spirit.” His next word is an invitation: “Let us pray,” a translation from the Latin oremus, which permits us to label this little invitation “the Oremus.”
For whatever reason, the Oremus has sometimes been omitted from places it belongs in the hymnal. To its credit, Lutheran Service Book restored it to its place prior to the Post-Communion Collect in its Divine Service settings, where it had been left out of The Lutheran Hymnal.
But it would have been even better to have seen this correction applied also to Matins and Vespers, whose collects likewise are supposed to be introduced with the Oremus. Both The Lutheran Hymnal and Lutheran Service Book err in omitting the Oremus prior to these collects. The rule for the collects at the prayer offices is that the number of them may vary—the first collect offered is the Collect of the Day, and the last is either the Collect for Grace (at Matins) or the Collect for Peace (at Vespers), with an odd number of additional collects coming between them (so that a total of three, five, or seven collects is prayed)—but irrespective of the number of them, they are all supposed to be introduced by a single salutation and Oremus.
The purpose of the Oremus is that it alerts the hearers as to the words that follow, namely, that they are being addressed to God. The officiant is inviting the hearers to join in the petition he is about to offer. Put simply, it is a matter of courtesy. So the careful officiant will always want to remember the Oremus: “Let us pray.”
Installation of officers
Installation of officers (following the sermon): Newly elected officers are to be installed after the sermon today: Chairman, Monroe Kemerling; Vice-chairman, Bob Bock; Recording secretary, Charlene Sovanski; SS chairman, Sheri Kraklow; Trustees, Tony Fisher, John Sovanski, Otis Anderson; Treasurer, Berniece Harris; Elders, Dick Melchin, Allan Kraklow, Grant Andreson
Remaining in office: Trustee: Bill Thompson; Missions Chairman: Judy Thompson; Stewardship Chairman, Jan Schoen; Finance Chairman, DeAnne Anderson; Finance Committee, Lucille Kemerling, Barb Kraklow; Elders, Steve Kraklow, Steve Harris, Dale Baker, Tom Wells.
The Lighter Side
From the definitions department –
Professional offer: hit man.
Resisting arrest: crabbiness of a two-year old
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443