Thursday, April 24, 2014

May 2014

Volume 26                                   May 2014                                           No. 5

Musing on the Resurrection

One of the most fascinating features of the resurrection accounts in the Gospels is their brutal honesty. The disciples are not presented to us as wise or discerning men who expected what our Lord told them to expect. In fact, in the account in St. Luke 24, he scolded them and called them fools: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” The Marcan account speaks of how he “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen” (St Mark 16:14).
But another feature of these accounts is the gentleness by which he reveals to them who he is. He appears, for instance to Mary Magdalene in a way that she does not at first recognize; only when he calls her by name does he lift the veil from her understanding; so also, on the Emmaus road, he walks with two disciples while their eyes are kept from recognizing him; only after speaking with them and at last breaking bread with  them does he make himself known. When he finally appears to all the disciples in the upper room, he lets them physically inspect him, and eats before them (St. Luke 24:37-43). In short, he is kind to them in spite of their dullness of heart to believe.
And so, of course, is he to us. He is kind. His way is to keep showing us, week after week. To keep preaching to us, telling us, bringing us to his Feast.
As he wanted them to know, so he wants us to know. He wants us to be confident.
The confidence that he want us to have is meant to carry us through life in spite of our sometimes acute awareness of our unworthiness and sin. And, in as perhaps as deep a way, in spite of the depth of challenges and fears that we sometimes must face. He wants us to know.
This is the joy of Easter, and of Eastertide. It is meant to continue throughout the Sundays from Easter until Pentecost, but to extend even beyond that; for every Sunday is Easter. Even the Sundays during the Lenten season are not counted among Lent’s forty days. No, they are Easter Sundays, in a way. All Sundays are Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday fulfills the words of the Psalmist: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
The reason for this joy is that we become participants in Jesus’ resurrection: his flesh is our flesh, his death is our death, and his resurrection is our resurrection. He immortality that he achieved has become our own immortality. This is why he explained to Martha: “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (St. John 11:26).
The Holy Feast of Easter is not over, therefore. It continues throughout Eastertide, throughout the year, and throughout all of Christian life.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!

+ Pastor Eckardt

Church Needs and Finances

Our Easter offering was a welcome $3463.50 this year. This is a figure that comes in at over twice the normal level for a weekend.

However, our needs continue to be felt. A special council meeting was held a little over a month ago in which the low level of our savings account was discussed, and possible plans of future action were weighed, but no definite steps were taken. 

Since then, members may have noticed that a stained glass window broke in the balcony, due to high winds. The trustees put up plywood for a temporary fix, but this will need to be addressed, and although insurance will cover the expense, the deductible is $2,500.

At council meetings the sacrificial giving level of many members is routinely noted. In addition, a bulletin from over twenty years go was recently reviewed, listing offerings not too much higher than they are today, in spite of the fact that our attendance today is considerably smaller. In short, we are a small parish with a great eagerness to thrive. Members need to be aware that, on the one hand, their remarkable giving levels have been helping us to maintain a viable congregation, but on the other hand, these levels will need to continue, and, if possible, be augmented.

May Anniversaries
5/28/1982        Christine and Garry Erickson
5/28/1977        John and Charlene Sovanski

May Birthdays
5/2       Sheri Kraklow
5/6       Emilie Ricknell
5/10     William Thompson
5/16     John Eckardt  
5/17     Jeffery Boswell
5/26     Preston Powers

May Ushers
Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, David Ricknell, Bill Thompson

May Meetings

First Tuesday meetings are May 6th, as usual: Altar Guild at 6 pm, Vespers 6:45; Elders 7:15. 

Church Council will be meeting on Wednesday, May 21st, at 5:30 pm.

Pentecost in June

Pentecost is late this year; it does not fall until Sunday, June 8th.  That weekend, Pastor and family will be at a wedding and family reunion in Cincinnati, so there will be no Pentecost Vigil. Pastor Kenneth Wegener, former pastor here now retired, will be filling in.

Altar Guild Notes

•        Wednesday, April 30th: SS Philip and James, color is RED.
•        The altar paraments color throughout May is WHITE.
•        No mass on Wednesday, May 28th; instead, mass is on Thursday, May 29th, which is Ascension Day.  The color is WHITE.

The Lighter Side


Coming up again this May!
Gottesdienst Chicago
A one-day conference: “Justification and the Sacrament” 
— with special guest speaker Rev. Rolf Preus
The most prolific writer among the late Robert Preus’s many sons, Pastor Preus      is widely known for his emphases on Justification and the Holy Ministry.  His recent re-admission to the clergy roster of the LCMS, after a two-decade hiatus in the hinterlands of the ELS (from which he was suspended in 2006 for challenging their views on the Ministry), is a delight to confessional LCMS Lutherans who wonder what took them so long.

Tuesday, May 20th Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
           5259 S. Major Ave

           ChicagoIL 60638

Also featuring banter and discussion from among our editors

Rev. Fr. Larry Beane, MDiv
Rev. Fr. Jason Braaten, MDiv 
Rev. Fr. Mark Braden, STM

Rev. Fr. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., STM, PhD
Rev. Fr. David H. Petersen, MDiv
Rev. Fr. D. Richard Stuckwisch Jr., PhD

8:30-9:00 am  Registration/Coffee, donuts/
Holy Absolution available

9:00 am  Matins
9:40 am  Welcome

9:45-10:45 am
Justification and the Sacrament, part one
Rev. Preus

11:00 am  Holy Mass

12:15 pm  Lunch (provided)

1:30 – 2:30 pm
Justification and the Sacrament, part two
Rev. Preus

2:30 – 3:30 pm
Panel Discussion
Response from the editors

3:30 pm  Vespers
4:00 pm  Gemütlichkeit

Lodging on your own.  Recommended:
Fairfield Inn. 6630 South Cicero Avenue Bedford ParkIL. (708) 594-0090
Sleep Inn. 6650 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) 594-0001

Registration: $25 (Payable to Gottesdienst. Mail us this form or email this info to with “Gottesdienst” in  the subject line).  You may pay the registration fee in advance or when you arrive.

Registration form:

Title: ______      Name:  _________________________
Parish: _______________________________
Email: _____________________________
City:________________  State:______ZIP;_______

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.  To update the list, please inform pastor. 
in our parish:
Sara Bidni
Ann Baker
Emilie Ricknell
John Ricknell
Linda Rowe
John Sovanski
Jean Russell
And all of our shut-ins.

And also:
Anna Rutowicz [re Harris]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter, cancer]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknell]
Christian Johnson [re Kemerlings]
Madison Lindsay [re Andersons]
Michelle Steuber [re Fisher]
Jill Matchett [re Shreck]
Anthony Strand [re Murphys]
Edna Day [Chris Harden’s mother-in-law, cancer]
Carolyn Lewis [re Campbells]
Barb Fornoff [re Russells]
Tilly Miller [Jennifer Madsen’s mother]
Lorene Foglesong [friend of the Kraklows]
Pastors Don Chambers, [Manito]
Brian Feicho [E. St. Louis]
Glenn Niemann [Pekin]
Arthur Baisch [cancer]
Adam Jacobsen  [Mattoon]
and Timothy Quill [Fort Wayne]

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

in trouble:
any unborn children in danger of abortion, and those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Somalia, China, North Korea, Syria, and elsewhere.

SOMALIA: Yet another Christian was murdered in Mogadishu earlier this month. “Sufia” was killed by a group of armed men who burst into her home and dragged her outside, shooting at neighbours who tried to rescue her. The suspects then fled, and police are still searching for them. Sufia’s parents, who were present at the time of the assault, were physically unharmed but are now mourning the devastating loss of their daughter. Somalis who are discovered as followers of Jesus face almost certain death, not only those in their own country but also in neighbouring countries where many Somali believers are forced to flee as refugees. “In Somalia, they kill you if they just find a piece of literature,” a Voice of the Martyrs source explained.
CHINA: The trial for an imprisoned pastor charged with “fraud” and “disturbing public order” began on April 10th, only to be suspended indefinitely due to the high tension and the dismissal of his lawyers. Pastor Zhang Shaojie, who belongs to a state-sanctioned church in Nanle County, Henan Province, was detained in November of 2013 without any formal documentation after church members petitioned a higher authority about a land dispute involving the church. Over 20 church members were also detained. On April 9th, the night before the trial began, Pastor Shaojie’s wife and their daughter (along with her one-year-old baby girl) were taken to the Nanle County Public Security Bureau for “interrogation.” They were finally released at 1:30 a.m. When the hearing took place the following day, Nanle County was under a complete lockdown, including a curfew for all residents and the mandatory stationing of guards at every intersection. Only two of Pastor Shaojie’s family members were allowed to attend the trial, and a U.S. Embassy official was barred from the courtroom. During the trial, Pastor Shaojie also decided to dismiss his lawyers from the case – a decision he made following concerns that they might lose their licenses for representing him.

NORTH KOREA: Today, Juche is a full-fledged religion that worships Kim Il Sung as god, and his son, Kim Jong Il as the son of god. Whether or not Kim Jong Un is now worshipped as the grandson of god remains to be seen. In 2005, David Hawke, the respected human rights investigator, interviewed 40 North Korean escapees about religion in North Korea. Here are some of their responses about North Korea’s religion:

“According to party covenant, Article 1, section 1, all North Koreans are required to worship Kim Il Sung with all our heart and might, even after his death. We have to venerate the pictures and status of Kim Il Sung.”

“We must hang [Kim Il Sung’s] pictures. The pictures indicate that Kim Il Sung is god, as we hang the pictures for the purpose of reminding ourselves that we depend on him.”

“Religious freedom is not allowed in North Korea because it will ruin the deification of Kim Il Sung.”

“A young woman, in her twenties, was washing clothes in a tributary to the Tumen River (the border between China and North Korea). When packing up the clothes, she dropped what was believed to be a small Bible. The actual words used by the North Korean authorities were “Christianity book” (kiddokyo chaek). Another washer woman reported the girl to the police.

“According to Interviewee 4, the informer may not have known that the book was a Bible, but all suspicious activity had to be reported to the police. The young woman and her father, looking to be roughly sixty years old, were arrested and held by the local Gukgabowibu police for some three months. During that time, the woman and her father were presumably investigated and interrogated. Apparently, they were deemed guilty of a capital offense. On a summer morning in 1997, the two were taken to a market area near where the Seong Cheon River runs into the Tumen River. The two were accused of trafficking and condemned as traitors to the nation and Kim Jong Il.

“Interviewee 4 was unaware of any other judicial procedures prior to the announcement of the crime, verdict, and sentence in an extremely brief public “show trial,” which consisted of no more than announcements of the charges and verdict immediately prior to the execution. Teachers and students from elementary (4th grade and up), middle, and high school were assembled, along with persons who had been sent over from the nearby market. Seven police fired three shots each into the two victims, who had been tied to stakes a few meters from the “trial” area. The force of the rifle shots, fired from fifteen meters away, caused blood and brain matter to be blown out of their heads.

“Interviewee 4 was in the fifth row. She sketched from memory a schematic drawing of the execution scene.”

SYRIA: The streets are most dangerous after 3:00 p.m. — that is, unless it’s a Friday, when few Syrian Christians dare to step outside their homes at all. In many Syrian towns, lawlessness has become the norm.  When government forces aren’t present, Muslims have been known to rob churches and kidnap, rape, or even kill Christian women.  Innocent bystanders simply making trips to the store have been gunned down. Curfews have done little to make anyone feel safer or less fearful, so the Christian community simply bands together…and prays.

Hundreds of these Christian residents have watched their lives — and their very freedoms — slip away right before their eyes.  Homs, a city which has been occupied by both government and rebel forces for weeks, is now alone the site of more than 1,500 violent deaths.  As the Arab Spring continues to rage throughout Syria, thousands more people have lost their lives in a movement that seeks to strip President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of its power.  And as Islamic protesters clash with government forces, Christians have become hopelessly tangled in the crossfire.

The most recent fighting has left over 50 Christians dead.  One victim, a young Christian boy, was killed by rebels who filmed the murder and then blamed the act on government soldiers.  Another victim, a Christian man, was taken captive by rebels before being cruelly asked by them, “How do you want to die?”  The man suffered a complete breakdown before he was eventually released.

Those who mourn

We sorrow with Charlene Sovanski and her family at the loss of her mother Ruth Hoernemann of Ortonville, Minnesota, in early April.

We also sorrow with Allan Kraklow and his family at the loss of his sister-in-law Dorothy Kraklow of Muscatine, Iowa, also in early April.

May the comfort of the resurrection of our Lord be with all who mourn.

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