Wednesday, January 29, 2014

February 2014



he Feast of
Candlemas is upon us again, so-called  because of the custom of distributing, blessing, and lighting of candles  during the service.  It is one of the more beautiful occasions we celebrate at St. Paul’s.
             Set on February 2nd, this year it falls on a Sunday, so it affords more of an opportunity for everyone to participate in this diginified and joyous Mass.  February 2nd is the fortieth day from Christmas, which makes it the day when any woman who gave birth was required to come for her rite of purification.  Thus the Blessed Virgin Mary came, and when she came she presented her first born Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as she was also required to do by the law.
             When Jesus was presented in the temple, the priest Simeon also came in and declared, in the words of the Nunc Dimittis,

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.

This declaration 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 jubilation on receiving the Child with our own reception of Christ at the altar.  This connection is made at every Mass, of course, in our own recitation of the Nunc Dimittis.  At Candlemas, the connection is highlighted because the Gospel appointed for the day is this very Gospel.
             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

+ Pastor Eckardt

Also called Groundhog’s Day

The reason for the legend of the groundhog who comes out, sees his shadow, and goes back into hiding for another six weeks off winter, is probably the fact that we are nearing the season of Lent, which is also (roughly) six weeks long.  But that’s just trivia. 

            More seriously, this year we begin pre-Lent on Septuagesima, February 16th.  So Ash Wednesday will fall on March 5th.  Easter is late this year, coming on April 20th.
            We look forward to our first use of new paraments on Septuagesima.

February Birthdays


2/2      Mindie Fisher

2/4      Joshua Kraklow

2/5      Tom Wells

2/17    Monroe Kemerling

2/23    Carol McReynolds

February Ushers

Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson           

February Anniversaries

Shut ins

Mary Hamilton at home; Anna Baker at home; Mirilda Greiert at Kewanee Care; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield .

Private Confession is always available to anyone between 6 and 6:30 pm 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 WHITE until February  15th at evening, when we enter pre-Lent, and the color changes to VIOLET.  This is also when we revert to  the use of oil lamps instead of tapers.

Next meeting is Tuesday, February 4th.

First Tuesday Vespers, etc.

February 4th, 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 addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.

Sick or infirm:
in our parish:
Sara Bidni, Emilie Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Sharon Hartz, John Sovanski, Jean Russell

And all of our shut-ins.

And also:
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 Andersons]
Rev. Don Chambers [Manito]
Rev. Brian Feicho [E. St. Louis]
Stacie Liese [wife of Rev. Michael Liese]
Michelle Steuber [re Fisher]
Marilyn Johnson [relative of the Kemerlings]
Jill Matchett [re Shreck]
Michele Dador [friend of Kemerlings]
Rick Nelson [Ricknells’ son-in-law]
Christopher Krueger [re Fishers]
Anthony Strand [re Murphys]

In the military:
John Eckardt
Donny Appleman [re Ricknell]
Thomas Kim [re Shreck]
Jaclyn Harden Alvarez
Michael Creech
and Richard Heiden [re Eckardt]

in trouble:
any unborn children in danger of abortion
Those suffering persecution in Sudan, India, Iran, and elsewhere.

Details on some Christian persecution worldwide:

Sudan is coping with such issues as ongoing internal conflict, poverty, hunger and natural disasters. Since South Sudan's secession from Sudan in 2011, believers in both countries have also faced increased harassment, arrests and persecution. No longer considered "citizens" of Sudan, many South Sudanese are still stranded in the north due to job loss, poverty, transportation limitations and conflict in South Sudan. Some officials have reportedly threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or those not willing to co-operate in the effort to locate other believers.
In Sudan, followers of Christ are under pressure from a regime that wants to extend a strict form of Sharia or Islamic law. Property has also been seized from churches on the pretext that it belongs to South Sudanese who are no longer citizens of the country, while other churches have been bulldozed. Many Sudanese have been displaced, and now live as refugees with inadequate access to food, water and shelter.
Militant Hindus attacked believers in several incidents during recent weeks. On Christmas Day, about 20 assailants raided the home where a group of Christians had gathered for prayer, grabbing Bibles and ripping them apart while shouting and cursing at the group for "destroying the Hindu culture." The Hindus also called local police, accusing the believers of "forced conversions to Christianity." Police arrested Pastor Arjun, 24, and five other Christians, seizing 20 Bibles from the home as evidence. The six Christians were released on bail the following day but still face prosecution.
In Andhra Pradesh, a pastor was left in critical condition after he and his wife were attacked on December 30th by a group of radicals wielding swords, knives and sticks. Pastor Namha Mosses, his wife Suvartha, and their seven-year-old daughter were asleep in their home when they heard a knock on the door at 1 a.m. When Pastor Namha answered the door, he was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach and back, causing damage to his liver, kidneys and other internal organs. When Suvartha rushed to help her husband, the assailants turned on her, injuring her head and hands. Neighbours called an ambulance for the wounded couple, who were immediately taken to a nearby hospital. Because Pastor Namha's injuries were more severe, he was transferred to a hospital in Hyderabad. They had been warned to stop their Christian activities, but continued to minister through prayer and the services of their church which includes 100 members and six house churches in the area.
Also in Andhra Pradesh, another church leader who had been stabbed succumbed to his injuries and died on January 13th. Brother Sanjeev was attacked several days prior to his death after the assailants came to his home which was located on his church's premises. Although the pastor was rushed to a local hospital, and later transferred to a larger medical facility, he died while undergoing treatment. Brother Sanjeev's wife was also attacked and suffered serious wounds to her arm. The pastor leaves behind his grieving wife and three children. At last report, three members of a militant Hindu group had been arrested for the murder.
Davoud Alijani, an Iranian believer imprisoned along with four other Christians in December of 2011, was released on January 13th after spending more than 250 days in jail. Davoud had been charged with converting from Islam to Christianity.
Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli, who were imprisoned along with Davoud, were earlier released from custody in December 2013. At last report, the fourth Christian, Pastor Farhad's wife Shahnaz Jayzan, remained imprisoned. However, unconfirmed reports indicate that she will be released in the next several days.
Meanwhile, January 16th marked the third anniversary of the trial of Behnam Irani, 43, a house church leader imprisoned for "offences against national security." Contacts report that Pastor Behnam is being held in appalling conditions at Ghezal Hesar prison and that he is seriously ill. His medical conditions, for which he has received inadequate treatment, include a bleeding ulcer and a herniated disc. He has also been beaten and tortured by prison officials. His family is concerned that he may die in prison. (To learn more about his imprisonment, click here.)
In a letter Behnam wrote in prison, he shared: "In jail I have attained new experiences about love. Here, I live with cellmates of whom it is hard to see anything positive in their lives and personalities. They don't think about anything but negative values, abhorrent acts, learning new experiences in crimes and nasty literature. I look at them and whisper to myself, 'Do they really deserve prayers and intercessions?' Immediately, I remember that Jesus Christ was sacrificed for their sins too. 'He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2)."
While imprisoned, Pastor Behnam's family is facing scrutiny by authorities. On December 15th, 2013, security forces raided the home of his wife Kristina, as well as the homes of three other Christians. Authorities confiscated Bibles and other Christian materials, as well as Kristina's laptop.
Sources: VOMC, Release International, VOM USA, The Hindu, National Council of Churches in India, Mohabat News, Release International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Anyone Seen a Robin yet?
The first-robin-sighting contest is on.  Tell Pastor the date on which you see one, on your honor.  And it has to be a living robin . . .

On “Father”

Here’s a post from late last year on the question of calling a pastor “Father,” written at Gottesdienst Online by a fellow Gottesdienst editor, Rev. Heath Curtis

I am honestly surprised at how often Gottesdienst is called upon to defend our editorial practice of referring to clergyman as Father. I'm also not a little surprised at the direction from which the questions come. But one thing almost all of the questions have in common is a quoting of Matthew 23:9-10   "And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.  Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ."
Fair enough: let's get a post up that covers all the Biblical ground and be done with it. You can link your questioning friends, neighbors, and Fathers here. So how did this title develop in the Church with this clear statement from Jesus? Doesn't calling a pastor Father violate it? 
Let's examine what Jesus says. It's an absolute statement: call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. The statement is either literal and means "call no human being on earth by the term father" or it is in some sense figurative, with the figure in the word "call," that is, "realize that no man on earth is really your father, even though you have many fathers on earth, for there is only One True Father." 
Well, if it's the former then how is it that we all call our fathers father? How does one justify that in light of Jesus' statement? "Call no man father" does not make room for biological exceptions. That is, if there is a figure here it certainly can't be in the negative particle because the whole force of the statement is most obviously aimed at earthly, biological fathers. There is no way the statement means "Call your dad father but nobody else." 
So the figure is obviously in the word "call:" realize that some words we use towards men are used only in shadowy ways because they belong to God. To "call" something by name in the Bible has great importance. Think of all those name changes in the Bible: God calls a thing what it is. To name something is supposed to directly speak of its essence. But when we call our earthly fathers father we just can't be using words that way. Our fathers are shadows, reflections, images (often poor ones) of the ultimate reality. We could just as well say that no wife should call her husband husband because there is only One Husband who is in heaven, Christ the Lord. Or, no one ought to call the lords in the House of Lords lords because there is only One Lord. In every case we are not thereby calling for some silly undoing of plain speech (let's make up a new word we can call our, I mean maleparent), but for a realization that God is the reality and things down here are the shadow.
            And, indeed, it is clear from the rest of the New Testament that "father" was already a term used in this shadowy sense: 
1 Corinthians 4:15   For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Philemon 1:10  I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.
Philippians 2:22  But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12  For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Timothy 5:1-2  Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.
So there you go: St. Paul, speaking in the Spirit, uses the term father in reference to men on earth, specifically to preachers vis a vis their parishioners. QED


From the pen of Pastor Karl Fabrizius of Our Father Lutheran Church, Greenfield, Wisc. (another Gottesdienst editor)
       The days of cancellation for cold caused me to recall the words of an old song by Foreigner (appropriately), “You're as cold as ice, You're willing to sacrifice our love; You want Paradise, But someday you'll pay the price, I know.” This song of the world, those who are foreigners from God, has something to say to those of us who are fellow-citizens in the kingdom of heaven. It is similar to the warning cry of the Lord in Revelation 3:15-19.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

       In the midst of a culture dominated by foreign gods like Rome, as evidenced by the societal gods preaching individual independence, gay marriage, living together, other sexual perversions, abortion, socialism and a distorted environmentalism (to name a few), the church is being silenced and compromised on every hand. Why is it that we are so often eager to listen to those outside the kingdom, rather than speaking the truth in love to them? We even struggle to speak lovingly to one another and exhort one another to abandon sin. It is as if we are willing to sacrifice the love that is ours in Christ Jesus for the sake of being loved by the world. If it is the words of the song will come true, “someday you’ll pay the price” and we will be spat out by the Lord who first brought us into His body by “spitting” upon us in the waters of Holy Baptism.
       Are we, like the church of Laodicea, content with our other riches and as long as our needs are met we will be content to be silent? Indeed, most of you are far richer than the Laodiceans, who grew content with their prosperity. Notice the “I” in their words. Such contentment is the mark of genuine wretchedness that does not acknowledge the abundant grace of the Creator. The cry of the Kyrie for mercy and pity is forgotten and the answer of God sending His Son for us in the flesh as we sing in the Gloria is cast aside. No matter how great or small the worldly treasure you have you may become poor, blind, and naked.
       Christ calls us back to faith in His words for He is the Amen, the faithful and true witness to what is the greatest treasure. In Him there is the gold refined by His precious suffering and death for us upon the cross in which He became our priceless treasure so that we sing, “Hence all earthly treasure! Jesus is my pleasure.” Christ cures our blindness with the salve of Holy Baptism that anoints us with His Spirit so that with Paul with might confess Him as the only Savior. He strips us naked in the Light of His Truth and then clothes us with His own righteousness. So He calls out to you to repent and be zealous for the good works He has given you so that you are merciful as He is merciful; not tolerant as the world is tolerant
       For our God is not Cold As Ice, but the God who serves sinners. Which leads us to a better hymn about the Paradise for which we do not pay at which our souls recline: “The world may hold her wealth and gold; But thou, my heart, keep Christ as Thy true treasure. To Him hold fast until at last a crown be thine and honor in full measure.”

St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
   109 S. Elm Street

   Kewanee, IL 61443

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