Wednesday, May 28, 2014

June 2014

What the Ceremonial Acts of the Liturgy Confess


ince I need to prepare for a workshop I am to give at the Synod’s Institute on Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music at
Concordia University, Nebraska, on July 28-31, I’ve had to do some thinking about what it is about ceremony that makes it worth doing, or preserving.
            The importance of ceremony is clearly taught in Scripture. The altars built by Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abraham (Genesis 12:7; 13:18), Isaac (Genesis 26:25), and Jacob (Genesis 33:20) served only to provide places for them to demonstrate their allegiance to the true God. No other purpose was served. When Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven, he awoke and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not . . . How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17), and he rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and called the place Bethel.  The marking of the place with a pillar, and the pouring of oil had no practical value at all. Their value was purely ceremonial. When Saul anointed David king over Israel (I Samuel 16:13), he could have done so without the actual pouring of oil on his head, if all he needed to do was show that David was the chosen one. He was the anointed one, and therefore, had to be actually anointed. But again, there was no practical, medicinal, magical, or other purpose for the oil. It was a ceremony only.
            Some would say, merely; just as some would say all activities that have no value other than the ceremonial are “merely” ceremonial. But such thinking is contrary to Scripture.
            Ceremony is something that distinguishes men from beasts, just as the use of language is peculiar to mankind. This is undoubtedly why all religions employ ceremony, no matter how idolatrous. In some cases the idolatry expects the ceremony to have practical value to the god (as, say, a rain dance), and in others it is simply expected ritual (Hindu funeral pyres might fit that description).
            Ceremony also accompanies military honors, and we expect to see it in certain settings. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia, has had a guard ceremonially stationed at it, at all times of every day since 1937. Certainly if the only purpose were to keep intruders away, something simpler could be arranged, or at least the dress-blues worn by the soldier on guard would not be deemed necessary.
            Ceremony, it turns out, says something by its very nature, even apart from the words that accompany it.
            Our Lutheran Confessions say not only that the church is marked by the proper preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments (Augsburg Confession VII), and but that “the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved . . . For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught what they need to know of Christ.” Here an important purpose for ceremony is even spelled out: that the unlearned may be taught.  Taught, that is, by the ceremony itself. When reverence and decorum are employed, there is a strong if subliminal message given, that here we are engaged in important activity, or that here, we are being treated to important gifts.  As Jacob said, “Surely, the Lord is in this place.”

This serves to demonstrate the falsehood in the often-heard claim that ceremonial acts are matters of indifference, so long as the word of the Gospel is kept pure. Although the way in which certain ceremonies are conducted may differ from place to place, the importance of ceremony itself, and of its careful use, is not a matter one can take or leave.
It all has to do with the fact that the incarnation of God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, was not an indifferent matter.  It was necessary that God become flesh, in order to become our Savior. And, according to Jesus himself, it was necessary that he suffer many things, and be rejected, and killed, and the third day rise again from the dead (St. Mark 8:31).  As thee was no way for God to procure our salvation apart from this physical suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, so we find that bodily involvement in worship carries high significance. God has joined himself to our flesh; and therefore it is fitting that we, in the flesh, worship him and acknowledge him by bodily engagement in worship.
+ Pastor Eckardt
June Ushers: Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells.

June Anniversaries:
6/17/1967 Robert and Mary Beth Jones
6/18/1960 Sandra and John Verplaetse
6/18/1977 Fr. Burnell and Carol Eckardt
6/18/1966  Don and Sue Murphy
6/19/1977 Dana and Carol McReynolds
6/19/1966 William and Judy Thompson
6/24/1989 Tony and Mindie Fisher
6/27/1954 Monroe and Lucille Kemerling
6/27/1981 Steve and Gail Peart
6/28/1958 Dale and Anna Baker

June Birthdays:
6/5 Linda Rowe         
6/15 Jill Powers
6/16 Berniece Harris
6/29 Jim Watson

First Tuesday

First Tuesday activities will be held as usual, on the 3rd of June: Altar Guild, Vespers, and Elders, beginning as usual at with Altar Guild at 6 pm, Vespers at 6:45, and Elders at 7:15.

Church Picnic

Our annual church picnic is scheduled for the last Sunday in June, that is, June 29th, at the shelter house at Northeast Park. We’ll head out there right after church for brats etc. as usual, and a day of frolicking in the sun and some good times together. Bring your Frisbees, your tennis rackets, your bats and balls, or whatever else you’d like to bring, to have some fun.

Shut ins

Mary Hamilton at home; Anna Baker at home; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield.

Altar Guild notes

·        No mass Saturday evening, June 7th.
·        Altar color is RED for the Pentecost (June 8).
·        No mass Wednesday, June 11th.
·        Altar color is WHITE for Trinity (June 14/15) and the Octave of Trinity (June 21/22).
·        After Sunday mass June 22, Altar color stays WHITE, to observe the  Nativity of St. John the Baptist at Wednesday mass that week
·        Altar color Saturday/Sunday June 28/29 changes to RED for the Feast of SS Peter and Paul.
·        After Sunday mass June 29, Altar color changes to GREEN and remains.

The Lighter Side

A Letter from Peter

Dear members of St. Paul's,

Last Friday, May 23rd, I graduated with my Masters of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary. I want to take this opportunity to thank the dear members of St. Paul’s - my church family - for continuing to support me throughout my seminary education. The money that the church has given me via the Kersten Fund has been a huge help. It has helped pay my tuition, books, room and board, etc. and has greatly lessened the amount of student loans I have had to take out. Additionally, you have always encouraged and motivated me with kind words, cards, and gifts. For all this I am truly grateful.

Though I have graduated with my M.Div., I am not yet going to receive a call into the ministry. I will be staying at the seminary for one more year to pursue an additional masters that the seminary offers, a Masters of Sacred Theology (STM). This will allow me to study an area of theology more in-depth than in the M.Div. program and at a higher level. The program culminates with the writing of a thesis. I plan on doing my research and thesis in the area of exegetical theology, looking at the New Testament's use of the Old Testament and investigating thereby the Christological hermeneutic of Jesus and the apostles.

I am one of five recipients of a graduate assistantship for this STM program. During the school year I will be working as a copyeditor for the seminary’s scholarly journal, Concordia Theological Quarterly. In exchange for this, my tuition for the year will be covered, and I will receive an additional monthly stipend. Nevertheless, I will have other expenses of room/board, books, health insurance, etc.

Staying an extra year to do an STM will not only allow me to grow and mature as a theologian and better prepare me to enter into the Office of the Holy Ministry, but it may also afford me various teaching opportunities in the future. For instance, my vicarage supervisor Fr. Braden, has an STM degree and is often asked to go to places like Venezuela to teach intensive courses for pastors and seminarians. I got to go on one of these trips with him last August, and it was an extremely motivating experience.

This brings me to my plans for this summer. As you may or may not know, I have been learning Spanish (on my own and during my short trip to Venezuela) and have even preached in Spanish a couple of times this past spring. In order to really learn Spanish well, I am going to spend 4 weeks at a language institute in Guatemala this summer. Antigua, Guatemala is known for its several Spanish academies, with people coming there from all over the world to learn Spanish. I will have four hours of one-on-one instruction a day and will be living with a Guatemalan host family. LCMS Missions is supporting me by paying for the bulk of my flight, on the condition that I spend a week visiting the LCMS mission site in the Dominican Republic after my stay in Guatemala. The entire trip will still cost me around $1600, but I think it will be worth it to learn Spanish. I’m hoping that knowing Spanish will be a great asset in my future ministry as a pastor, whether I do Hispanic outreach in the parish or perhaps get involved in foreign mission work. There is a great need, here and abroad (in Central and South America, and in Spain), for Lutheran pastors and missionaries who can do Spanish-language ministry.

I am truly looking forward to my Spanish-learning trip this summer, to my STM studies during the school year, and to my the call into the ministry that I will receive—God willing—next spring. And of course, I am also very glad to be home in Kewanee for a few weeks this summer and to be at St. Paul’s during that time. Thank you again for your continued prayers, support, and encouragement.

In Christ,
Peter Eckardt

In Our Prayers
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:
Ann Baker, Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, John Sovanski, Jean Russell, Lucille Kemerling and 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]
Lorene Foglesong [re Kraklows]
Denise Verplaetse [re Sandra]
Susan Gehlbach [re Eckardt]
Yvonne Wegener, recovering from successful cancer surgery
Corbin Gonzales [re Russell]
Pastors Don Chambers, [Manito]
Brian Feicho [E. St. Louis]
Glenn Niemann [Pekin]
Arthur Baisch [cancer]
Adam Jacobsen  [Mattoon]
and Timothy Quill [Fort Wayne]
And those we name in our hearts.

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

in trouble:
especially any unborn children in danger of abortion, and those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Sudan, North Korea, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere.
Here are the details.
SUDAN: Pregnant Woman Sentenced to Death for 'Apostasy'
A 27-year-old pregnant woman has been charged with apostasy, a crime punishable by hanging, after refusing to recant her Christian faith. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a doctor, was also sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery, as her marriage to a Christian man is not considered valid. Under Sudanese law, Muslim women may only marry Muslim men.  Meriam and her husband, Daniel Wani, have a 20-month-old son, Martin, who is currently in her care at the prison. (The couple is expecting their second child next month.) Although sentenced with crimes of apostasy and adultery on May 11th, and given three days to recant her faith, the young expectant mother calmly told the judge at a hearing days later that she remains a Christian. Her death sentence is reportedly to be carried out two years after giving birth to her baby. Martin's custody would then be granted to the government. The lawyer acting for Meriam is preparing an appeal which must be submitted within 15 days. Prison guards and other prisoners have reportedly abused Meriam while she is in prison. She is also being denied medical treatment, including prenatal care for her unborn child. Furthermore, Muslim scholars are visiting the prison with the intent of pressuring Meriam to return to the religion of her father.

NORTH KOREA: Christians Blamed for Human Rights Atrocities
In response to a recent report from the United Nations Human Rights Council concerning human rights abuses in North Korea, authorities from the highly restrictive nation blamed Christian discipleship bases located in northeast China for influencing their citizens. Rev. Eric Foley, CEO of Seoul USA (VOMC's sister mission which works with North Koreans in such discipleship bases) gave the following explanation: "The significance of North Korea's comments cannot be overstated. North Korea is choosing to publicly blame Christian missionaries for its human rights problems and internal difficulties." The situation facing North Korean missionaries in northeast China is becoming more difficult and, according to Rev. Foley, these challenges are not only coming from the 'Hermit Kingdom.' "If North Korea is pointing to missionaries operating in China as a source of potential North Korean instability, and if it is alleging that China is the host, then missionaries can expect an increasing crackdown on churches and discipleship bases reaching North Koreans."

KAZAKHSTAN: New Laws Threaten Religious Freedom
New laws with tougher restrictions on religious freedom are currently awaiting approval in Kazakhstan. The laws, which are currently being reviewed with the parliament's Senate, would usher in harsh new punishments that are raising concerns among human rights defenders and religious communities. Restrictions include up to 60 days of imprisonment for leading religious meetings without state permission, or up to 45 days in jail for attending such an event. At present, these offenses are punishable with only fines. It would also become illegal to build places of worship in prisons.

Sources: Middle East Concern, World Watch Monitor, Sudan Country Report.

Council Meets Third Wed.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Church Council will meet the third  Wednesday this month, which is June 25th

Concordia Catechetical Academy

The Concordia Catechetical Academy is holding its annual conference at Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 18-21.  Pastor and Carol will be away for the two-day event, so there will be no mass hereon Wednesday the 18th. Anyone interested in details for this fine conference (which many lay people attend) log on at or consult Pastor.

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

   Kewanee, IL 61443

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