Volume 25 December 2013 No. 12
CALAMITY AS AN AID TO PREPARATION
The stories of the hellish situation in the
are still coming in, as people struggle to cope with the devastation left in
the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. There are
stories of the sight and stench of dead bodies, of untold thousands of people
awaiting shipments of food and water, of airlifts to locations of refuge. Our LCMS response team is on the ground
bringing relief as well, gathered from congregations large and small around our
And just as the news was settling in, mammoth tornados swept across the
on Sunday the 17th of November.
Closest to us among those affected are the communities of Washington and
Pekin, to which I’ll be continuing to offer support and supplies directly from
our congregation—a coordinating center has been set up at St. Peter’s in East
Peoria. Although the disaster in our backyard is nothing like the unspeakable
losses in the Philippines,
nevertheless for those who have lost their homes in Washington, the thought that it could have
been worse is hardly consoling.
These kinds of events are sobering to all of us; but according to the faith, they are meant to serve that very purpose. The psalmist declares, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept Thy word . . . It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes (Psalm 119:67,71).
Why do these things happen? In short, to show us in no uncertain terms that we live in a fallen world that is sorely in need of its Redeemer. This world is not what it is supposed to be, and we await its restoration to perfection on the day of Christ’s return.
This brings me to the matter of Advent, which fills nearly all the month of December. Advent means “coming,” and is both a time of awaiting Christmas and, perhaps more so, a time of preparation for Jesus’ return in glory. The calamities that we see in the world and in our own lives can actually serve to help us await and prepare, if they are mixed together with the word of God.
Thanksgiving will have more meaning for people who know these things; so will Christmas, I expect. For even the gatherings of families and friends, and the love shared there, as important as those things are to us, cannot be compared with the surpassing love of God in Jesus our Lord. It is love that moves him to show us in sometimes very painful ways what we need to remember, although it breaks His heart more than it does ours to see the devastation and loss people must suffer. But there is no other way.
Therefore, beloved, (as the Apostle says), do not despise the chastening of the Lord, which is meant for your good. As our fathers used to chasten us for our good, so our heavenly Father has not deserted us, but would have all come to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and calamity, as troublesome as it can be, has a way of helping toward that end.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Epiphany Vespers on Sunday Night, January 5th; Epiphany Mass and Retreat the Next Day
Our annual winter Vespers is scheduled for Sunday night, January 5th, 2013, at 7 pm. This is the Eve of Epiphany.
It will be followed by our traditional wine-and-cheese reception, another annual tradition. Then on Monday January 6th, we’ll have a Day of Theological Reflection, beginning with Epiphany Mass at 9:00 a.m. This will be our fifteenth retreat in the Theological Reflection series, and is entitled,
st. luke’s subtle confessions of Jesus’ divinity
This retreat will focus on several passages in the Gospel according to St. Luke that subtly show the divinity of Jesus. While the overt references to Jesus in this Gospel are hard to miss, the subtle ones provide further insight into this evangelist’s keen awareness of who Jesus is.
Thanksgiving Observed Wednesday Evening Before
As is our custom, we will celebrate Thanksgiving at Wednesday mass the night before (November 27th) at 7 pm
First Tuesday Meetings Dec. 3
On Tuesday, December 3rd, Altar Guild meets as usual at 6 pm, and Elders at 7:30 pm. Between them we will hold vespers at 6:45 pm. All members are invited to attend.
Special Masses Wednesdays
St. Nicholas’ Day will be observed Wednesday, December 4th (transf., Dec. 6) at our 7 p.m. mass.
12/10 Isaiah Madsen
12/11 Chris Harden
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.
Mary Hamilton at home; Anna Baker at home; Mirilda Greiert at Kewanee Care; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield.
Choir Rehearsals in December
No choir rehearsal on December 4th (JOTS combo is playing after mass at the Boss center); Choir rehearses on the 11th; on the 18th is caroling (see below).
Carolling December 18th
Let’s go caroling on Wednesday, December 18th, after mass. We’ll plan to go to some members’ homes, and/or nursing homes, as time permits. This will replace choir rehearsal that night (Choir members, we’ll practice while caroling, but others, join us!)
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:
in our parish:
Ann Baker, Sara Bidni, Emilie Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Sharon Hartz, John Sovanski, Jean Russell
And all of our shut-ins.
David Dakin [re Harris]
Anna Rutowicz [re Harris]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter, cancer]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknell]
Christian Johnson [re Kemerlings]
Madison Lindsay [re
Tom Fornoff [Jean Russell’s brother-in-law]
Rev. Don Chambers [Manito]
Rev. Brian Feicho [
E. St. Louis]
Stacie Liese [wife of Rev.
Michelle Steuber [re Fischer]
Marilyn Johnson [relative of the Kemerlings]
Jill Matchett [re Shreck]
Michele Dador [friend of Kemerlings]
Rick Nelson [Ricknells’ son-in-law]
Tammy Johnson [Kemerlings’ daughter]
Christopher Krueger, undergoing tests,
Anthony Strand, friend of Murphys, who has cancer
In the military:
Donny Appleman [re Ricknell]
Thomas Kim [re Shreck]
Jaclyn Harden Alvarez
and Richard Heiden [re Eckardt]
any unborn children in danger of abortion
Those suffering persecution in Egypt, Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Khazakstan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, China, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea, and elsewhere.
Here are some details:
The executions were public and took place in seven cities across the country, according to the JoongAng Ilbo. In the port city of
, "eight people were tied to a
stake at a local stadium, had their heads covered with white sacks and were
shot with a machine gun." Ten thousand spectators, including children,
were forced to witness the executions. Wonsan
The families of the victims were dispatched to political prison camps, the paper also reported—a move in keeping with the regime's long-standing policy of punishing three generations of a family for one member's transgression. Most inmates do not survive long in
's prison camps. North
- Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal
Altar Guild Notes
Advent begins the first Sunday in December. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed on the Third Sunday in Advent, December 15th.
St. Nicholas’ Day will be observed Wednesday evening, November 4th, at 7. Color remains violet (Third Class Feast).
St. Lucy’s Day will be observed on Wednesday, December 11th, at 7. Color is violet. (Third Class Feast)
The three Christ Masses will be held as usual, 7 pm Christmas Eve, 12 midnight, and 10 am Christmas Day. Color is white.
The Circumcision and Name of Jesus will be observed on New Year’s Eve, the 31st, at 7 pm. Color is White.
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 7th, beginning at 9 am. Please help!
Advent for the church is a time of penitential preparation for the coming of Christ (that’s why the color is violet). 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 Vespers is after Christmas). The finest way to prepare for the coming of Christ is by contrition and confession.
The Lighter Side
A woman called her husband to ask if he could stop by the grocery store on his way home from work: “Honey, please pick up a gallon of milk and, if they have eggs, get six.” So the man brought home six gallons of milk. His wife said, “Why all the milk?” He replied, “They have eggs.”
Hat tip – Jennifer Madsen
The New Testament in His Blood
This series contains brief liturgical explanations which appear in Pastor Eckardt’s book The New Testament in His Blood (Gottesdienst, 2010).
Our Father and Words of Institution
At this point in the Mass—from the Our Father and Words of Institution until the time of distribution—it is fitting, if possible, for the entire congregation to kneel, in humble acknowledgment that here Christ is condescending to come to us in pity and mercy. During the Our Father, the celebrant holds his hands out or up high, and chants what, together with the Verba, forms the essence of our canon. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray using these words. He did not offer that command in a vacuum, but, we may rightly assume, meant for it to be used especially in connection with His Supper.
At the consecration the celebrant takes the Host into his hands, just as Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, took the bread and wine into His hands. The noted Roman Catholic French cleric Charles Arminjon (1824-1885), writing in The End of the Present World and The Mysteries of the Future Life, declared that here the priest’s words cease, his personality disappears, and the voice of Jesus Christ replaces that of His minister. Arminjon was right: here the minister is doing his ministering in a most fundamental and Biblical sense.
Hence the celebrant has his back to the people during the Sanctus, the Our Father, the Verba, and his own self-communion, as if to hide the face of Christ, who died and thus was hidden from His people; but when the celebrant turns to them again for the Pax, saying, “The peace of the Lord be with you alway,” he is essentially repeating the words of Jesus who thus spoke to His disciples in the upper room on the day of His resurrection. There is an old rubric that provides simply that the words be “Pax vobiscum” (“peace be with you”), dropping “of the Lord” when spoken by a bishop, which provides a verbatim repetition of the words of the risen Lord, and some early councils (for instance, that of Braga in 563) allowed both bishops and priests to use the same form of salutation.
Similarly we may note the anecdotal account from Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of the Siberian Lutheran Church of an elderly woman in a remote village in Siberia who, upon gaining form him her first opportunity to receive the Sacrament, whispered to him after the service, “almost literally repeating the words of Saint Simeon (St. Luke 2:29-30): ‘Through all my life I dreamed to meet a Lutheran pastor. Now I can depart in peace because my eyes have seen the Pastor” (Siberian Lutheran Mission Society, Vol. 7.3, December 2008, 6).
It is particularly here, when the Holy Elements are consecrated, that the pastor may be seen as a living icon of Jesus.
The Formula of Concord insists that “the words of institution are to be publicly spoken or sung before the congregation distinctly and clearly, and should in no way be omitted” (SD, VII, 79).
This is said in opposition to the practice which arose in the sixth or seventh century, of the celebrant’s saying the canon of the Mass (which includes the Our Father and the Words of Institution) virtually silently. The people knew the words were being said, but they could not hear them.
This was likely an outgrowth of a venerable third century practice called the disciplina arcani in which the catechumenate were not allowed even to remain present for the liturgy of the faithful, when the Our Father and the Verba were said. There was a very close scrutiny kept
regarding those who could even hear those words in the liturgy. And even when they were preached or written about, it was done only obliquely, using intentionally vague expressions. The idea behind this practice was a worthy one, namely to uphold the sanctity and holiness of the Sacrament, in much the same way as the name of God was not to be spoken aloud during Old Testament times. There was even a practice among women of donning their veils at this time, and the doors of the church are watched so that no one but the communicants may be present. The overall idea at work was that a great mystery is here, at which we bend the knee and worship with sighs too deep for words. This understanding is actually considered by many to have been a key contributing factor in the appeal of the church in its early centuries. Although we no longer have the disciplina arcani, we can learn from its use. There is no need, for example, to take school children into the sacristy and have them taste unconsecrated bread before their first communion, as if to remove the mystery. The mystery ought to be preserved; after all, that’s why we call it a sacrament.
Yet as we consider this history we also find an instance of a noble idea taken too far, particularly in the rise of the “secret” utterance of the canon. For by the seventh century, nobody at all was able to hear the clearest expression of the Holy Gospel. Virtually every instance of the arising of a faulty or poor practice in the history of the Church can be traced to some pious or decent idea or purpose now come to be abused, and this is no exception. The removal from the hearing of the people of the Words of Institution—which Luther regarded as the purest expression of the Gospel—should not be taken otherwise than as a diabolical robbery of the words of our Lord from His people. One of the salient features of the Reformation was to provide that the Gospel was heard. Often this is misunderstood to mean merely that Bibles were put in to the hands of the people. Although the printing press was certainly a tremendous invention which aided the success of the Reformation, the primary place for the hearing of the Gospel was at
The Gospel was to be preached, and, most prominently, to be clearly and
distinctly heard most especially in the Words of Institution. Mass.
There is on the other hand no warrant for providing that all the people say the Our Father aloud at this point. Although certainly the Our Father is and ought to be chief among the daily prayers of Christian people, and therefore is properly said by all during the prayer offices (Matins, Vespers, etc.), yet at Mass it takes on an additional, consecratory purpose, and therefore ought to be said by the celebrant alone. Although the custom of congregational recitation of the Our Father with the celebrant at Mass is common in the twenty-first century, is a Roman Catholic innovation from De Musica Sacra, issued on 3 Sept.1958 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. This ruling authorized the faithful to say the Our Father with the celebrant (in Latin, of course: the Pater Noster), but only at a Low, i.e., spoken Mass. Since Vatican II, in the 1960s, even that restriction was lifted. But it was not so prior. From antiquity the Church has sung aloud only its response to the Our Father, saying “For Thine is the kingdom,” etc.
By this rubric a reminder of the connection between the Our Father and the Words of Institution made: the Our Father always belongs with the Words of Institution, and, together with them, effects the very consecration of the elements. Moreover, in this we also have a hint of respect toward the old discipline arcanum. That is to say, while it is important that these words be heard clearly and distinctly; yet their removal from the lips of the people at this point is a subtle reminder of their profound sacredness. All of these words are therefore most fittingly uttered by the celebrant alone, and thus the holiness of the moment is accentuated.